A month ago we reported on the story of the coffee car and the preparations for attempting a world speed record on September 14. Yesterday was the big day and the car, a re-designed Rover named Carpuccino, was ready. Its team was pumped, having already broken one Guinness record for longest journey traveled by a coffee-powered car, Carpuccino’s predecessor. The BBC reported that the first coffee car, Expresso, made the March 2010 journey of 210 miles, from Birmingham to Manchester in 17 hours. The main setback was highway gridlock it encountered, revealing that all that idling was difficult for coffee cars. Some tinkering and lessons to be learned was necessary along the way, but the record was still broken. The re-designed VW proved itself in the long haul. Yesterday, speed, rather than endurance, was the goal. Hoping for 80 mph, the team was satisfied with the car’s 66 mph performance. Now they must wait for confirmation from Guinness, because the speed didn’t make the magic 80 mph number they knew would be fast enough. The story also stated that the coffee car’s fuel can be anything that can be burned in the gassifier, the heart of the power system. In fact, the technology is based on the use of the gassifier in World War II when vehicles burned wood for fuel during a gas shortage. It all started when the owner noticed that coffee shops had huge amounts of used coffee grounds sitting around, and he got the idea to recycle them as car fuel. The grounds were made into pellets which could be poured into the gassifier, much like the pellets for pellet stoves. Burning the pellets produces a gas which powers the car. Not surprisingly, the process requires older cars, as the fuel injection of today’s carburetors interferes. The car was gutted and the gassifier put in the rear as low as possible for speed’s sake. In case you’re wondering, the exhaust trail left behind unfortunately doesn’t smell of coffee, but more like a “house fire”. Of course, if the gassifier could also heat water for coffee, taking a page from Audi and Peugeot, they might be able to achieve that great aroma. The coffee car’s owner is doing this for fun - while demonstrating that waste can produce energy. For more information and videos, go to www.coffeecar.org. The team is now looking for sponsors for their coffee car project.
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