Driving your cuppa further

Driving your cuppa further

Next time you are making a cup of coffee in the morning, spare a thought that you are dealing with a potential fuel of the future.

It’s not just aroma – in Britain, engineers have built a car that runs entirely on coffee beans and broke the world speed record for a car powered by organic waste.

In September, a modified Rover SD1 averaged 66.5mph at the Elvington Race Track near York, smashing the previous record of 47mph achieved by a US team that built a car fuelled by wood pellets.

Engineer Martin Bacon, with the Teesdale Conservation Volunteers of Durham, stripped out the old car and refitted it with a ‘gasifier’ and filters which turn waste coffee granules into energy to drive the engine.

The breakthrough car is not the first to be powered by coffee.

Mr Bacon and his team based the design of the Rover on a coffee-powered Volkswagen Sirocco built for the BBC science show Bang Goes The Theory.

That car was driven from London to Manchester in March last year and straight into the Guinness Book of Records, as no car powered by waste material had ever travelled that distance before.

Bang Goes The Theory presenter Jem Stansfield explained that the cars are a genuine alternative to powering engines using fossil fuels.

They work, he says, by burning waste coffee granules, which would otherwise end up in landfill..

“It’s like an old charcoal burner,” he said.

The coffee is heated up like charcoal. Then the combustion gases, generally carbon dioxide and water vapour, are reduced by hot carbon to carbon monoxide and hydrogen.

This is then filtered by a cyclone filter and a rock wool filter and cooled down by a radiator.

“By the end the gas is a lot cooler and cleaner and is piped through to the engine” Mr Stansfield said. “The coffee gas, the carbon monoxide and hydrogen, goes in the cylinders and the explosion drives the engine.”

Coffee powered cars … what a great way to reduce our carbon footprint and
cut the amount of greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere.

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