Car converted to run on waste coffee grounds

How long does a shot of espresso keep you feeling alert for? Three or four hours, possibly? Well, the world’s first (and so far only) coffee-powered car will do around 210 miles on 70kg of used coffee grounds – that’s roughly the equivalent of 56 espressos a mile.

The car, a 1988 Volkswagen Sirocco, has of course instantly earned the nickname the ‘car-puccino’.  It was converted by a team from the BBC to travel from London to Manchester for exhibition at the Big Bang science fair, as an illustration of how alternative fuels work. Converted to run on nothing but waste coffee grounds collected from a chain, the car has been designed as a gimmick rather than for practical purposes.

Converting a ‘conventional’ far means that the fuel tank is inadequate, and needs to be refilled around every 60 miles or so. The car is actually running on the carbon component in the coffee grounds, which means that the filters for the charcoal boiler will have to be cleaned every 20 miles or so as well. The team responsible for the car-puccino said that the same process could also be used with other unusual dry fuels, such as woodchips or agricultural waste.

Could coffee-powered cars be the future?

On its maiden voyage, the car experienced some problems such as a tendency to overheat when stuck in traffic and eventually covered the 210 miles from London to Manchester in 17 hours.

While the car-puccino was always designed to be an experiment rather than a commercial proposition, we’re delighted to see that such an innovative use can be made of used coffee grounds. Who knows where the future will take us – perhaps planes running on lattes?

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