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Coffee car grinds up Guinness world speed record

- September 30th, 2011

CoffeeCar


I’ve had coffee that’s been referred to as “premium” and “super-hi-test”, but this is nothing like that. A car powered on coffee, the same fuel that powers us up every morning, has recently broken a world land-speed record for a car running on organic waste, by cruising at an average speed of 66.5MPH (107 km/h), crushing the old record of 47MPH (75.6 km/h), previously set by a US car.

The land-speed record-breaking car is the brainchild of engineer and inventor Martin Bacon with the help of a Teesdale Conservation Volunteers from County Durham in northeast England.

The previous record claim, according to Bacon, was a US group, Beaver Energy, who had a car that ran on wood pellets.

But this latest event almost didn’t happen. Bacon says that 2 days before, they had issues with their vehicle and had to pull the entire engine out.

Bacon’s car,  is an old Rover SD1 2300 with a straight six engine, converted to run on coffee.

Coffeecar2

Bacon and his team stripped out the guts of the vehicle and in the rear, fitted it with a series of filters and what they called a “gasification system.”  The inverted gasifier actually burns the materials at extremely high temperatures, 700C, which produces gases that are cleaned and then cooled down to 15C, which makes it more combustible.

So why waste a really good cup of Java burning it in a car’s engine, you might ask? You might think that it’s no big deal for a country that prides itself on drinking tea! Well fear not, nothing is going to waste.   No valuable coffee beans are harmed in the process. The car is actually powered on waste coffee grinds, so it’s after the good ‘cuppa joe’ has already been consumed.

There is a bit of a process. Bacon says they run around and collect the grinds from coffee shops. However, when they do get them, they are usually wet, so they need to dry them out by putting them through a pellet mill. And it’s the pellets that are actually burned.

Bacon is thrilled to have broken the record, but his heart is really set on getting the car up to an average speed of 80MPH (128.75km/h). Interestingly enough, they did manage to get the car past 77MPH, almost 125km/h.

To ensure proper recording of the speed, the run actually had to be done twice, once in each direction, so wind would not be considered a factor and run location not offering an unfair advantage.

Videos to watch

To find out more about the coffee car, visit Bacon’s site. You may also want to tune into Bacon’s narrated YouTube Video to see how the coffee car works. And BBC Mobile website, News – Science and Environment section has some footage of the actual run.

If it can be perfected for mass consumption, this technology can certainly help us reduce, reuse & recycle. Just think, in the future, we may be gassing up at Timmies or Starbucks as well as Petro Canada. It may give a whole new meaning to a “Second Cup.”

Greg Gazin is the Real Canadian Gadget Guy.

Follow me on Twitter @gadgetgreg.

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