Coffee: Is there anything it can’t do?
In addition to providing a morning energy boost for millions of undercaffeinated people and reportedly helping lower stroke risks, it can also be used to fuel a Guinness World Record–breaking car, as a British conservationist discovered.
Martin Bacon, 42, converted a Ford pickup truck into Coffee Car Mark 2 — the world’s fastest coffee-powered vehicle. Bacon installed a charcoal stove on the car, which breaks down coffee-bean chaff (a by-product of the roasting process) into carbon monoxide and hydrogen. The gas is cooled and filtered, and the hydrogen is used to power a modified gasoline engine. The coffee car hit a top speed of 65 m.p.h. in the presence of a Guinness adjudicator at Woodford Airfield in Manchester, England, on Feb. 19.
According to this video on the coffee-car website, starting the machine is no easy task. Instead of simply turning the ignition key, Bacon has to load the coffee pellets to the boiler and wait for enough pressure to build up. After two test runs on that chilly morning and some tinkering with the machine that generates fluffs of white smoke when started, he successfully broke a world record.
Bacon has long been fascinated with coffee-powered vehicles. According to BBC, he converted an old Volkswagen Scirocco into Coffee Car Mark 1 and drove it 210 miles from London to Manchester in 2010. The Car-puccino, which reportedly reached 60 m.p.h., claimed the Guinness World Record of the longest journey by a coffee-powered car.
Now, Bacon and his team are driving the Mark 2 on a tour across the U.K. to promote Co-operative Food, a British fair-trade brand.
Bacon’s coffee car is not the first vehicle powered by food. In 2009, scientists from Warwick University built a Formula 3 racing car boasting a biodiesel engine that can run on chocolate extract, reported the Telegraph. Unfortunately, the car, which reportedly can hit speeds of up to 145 m.p.h., was banned from the championship because its rather unusual fuel failed to meet regulations.
(LIST: The 50 Worst Cars of All TIME)