A car that uses used coffee grounds for fuel beat the land speed record for a gasification engine.
Gasification is the process of introducing oxygen and heat to an organic substance, such as coffee beans or tea leaves, to the point where it releases something called "syngas." Syngas is a molecule that contains carbon monoxide, hydrogen, carbon dioxide, and methane and when burned it can power a normal combustion engine just as well as gasoline or diesel. The previous world record for a vehicle running on syngas released from wood pellets went 47mph. The Coffee Car manufactured by the Teesdale Conservation Volunteers of Durham, England blew up that record by averaging a speed of 66.5mph.
"The first thing we had to do was find the right car," said engineer Martin Bacon. "We actually found this Rover SD13500 which is the ideal choice; not too big and not too small."
The team stripped out most of the interior to lose weight in compensation for the heavy steel of the gasifier. This was actually the second car built, having first accomplished the goal of driving from London to Manchester in the Coffee Car Mark 1.
"With this Coffee Car, we've built it for speed," Bacon said. "With the mark 2, we've designed it to give us a high yield of gas to run the engine in this SD1."
The whole process is quite amazing, especially since it uses a waste product that most of us just toss in the trash or run down the drain. The gasifier used in the Coffee Car wouldn't work in a mass-produced vehicle, and getting it up to such a high speed is a bit labor intensive for a common consumer. But if these guys can make a car run on coffee grounds tinkering in a garage in England, why can't engineers in Detroit or Germany make a car run on Mr. Fusion?
Find out more at Rotters.org.