Thinking Tech

Coffee-stimulated car smashes speed record

Posting in Energy

Martin Bacon' s coffee-powered car became the world's fastest organic waste-powered car, reaching speeds of 77.5 miles per hour.

You know how so many people rely on endless cups of coffee to fuel them through the workday? One inventor figured that it wasn't such a bad idea to build a car that can also get a serious jolt from the leftover grinds.

But Martin Bacon' s vehicle isn't just your average organic waste-powered car (if there is such a thing); It also recently became the world's fastest. A few weeks ago, the vehicle set a new Guinness World Record during a run in which it reached speeds of 77.5 miles per hour and sustained an average speed of 66.5 mph. The previous speed record, set last year by the wood-burning Beaver XR7, was 47.7 mph.

The huge improvement upon the previous record is partly due to clever modifications such as gutting parts of the vehicle to make it lighter, but much of the credit goes to Bacon's gasification system. Some of you might recall that the time machine in the film "Back to the Future" used a similar biomass-converting device, though Bacon's version of a "Mr. Fusion" obviously doesn't work using nuclear fusion.

Working with a team of volunteers from Teesdale Conservation in Durham, England, the engineer turned a run-of-the-mill Rover SD1 into a bean-burner by rigging it with an onboard wood gas generator that incinerates wood and coffee grounds at temperatures well above 1292 degrees F. What they got was a synthetic gas that's comprise of carbon monoxide, hydrogen, and methane that's automatically supplied to the vehicle's V6 engine.

While much of the automotive industry is moving toward battery-powered electric motors, gasification technology, revived from the WWII era, may someday develop into another attractive alternative. There's not only the potential to reduce garbage from landfills but the clean-burning syngas fuel produced can be used to make ethanol or to power hydrogen fuel cells.

Here's a video that explains the concept:

(via CNET)

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Tuan Nguyen

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Tuan C. Nguyen is a freelance science journalist based in New York City. He has written for the U.S. News and World Report, Fox News, MSNBC, ABC News, AOL, Yahoo! News and LiveScience. Formerly, he was reporter and producer for the technology section of ABCNews.com. He holds degrees from the University of California Los Angeles and the City University of New York's Graduate School of Journalism. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure