Today is National Coffee Day — let's say it all together now, Everyday is National Coffee Day — and to celebrate, we bring you a slightly different take on our beloved pick-me-up: the Coffee Car. The car, which is powered by used coffee grinds, just set the Guinness World Record for the fastest vehicle “run on gas from organic waste,” hitting 75 miles per hour at its fastest and 66.5 on average. It handily beat the previous 47.7 miles per hour record set by a wood-burning car.
The first version of the car, Coffee Car Mark 1, was invented last year for the BBC program Bang Goes the Theory. Engineer Martin Bacon and a team of volunteers gutted a 1988 Volkswagon Scirocco and built a custom gasifier into the car. The gasifier converted the used coffee grind solids into clean energy by using extremely high heat to break down the grinds into hydrogen and carbon monoxide. This resulting “syngas” then was cleaned, cooled, and fed into a modified combustion engine to power the car. Coffee Car Mark 1 went on to set a record of its own: the show's host drove the vehicle 209.4 miles from London to Manchester, fueled by the equivalent of more than 11,000 used espresso grinds (the car, not the driver), and set the Guinness World Record in the very specific category, “Longest Journey by a Coffee-Powered Car.”
This year, the Coffee Car team focused on speed rather than distance for Coffee Car Mark 2. They completely stripped a Rover SD1 and rebuilt the gasifier to accommodate a larger engine. The team also took note from Doc Brown's DeLorean and managed to fit the entire modified system within the body of the Rover so they could “maximise the aerodynamics of the vehicle.” A closer look at the mechanics of Coffee Car Mark 2 is in Bacon's second video, below.
“What do I build next,” Bacon tweeted after he set the world record. We respectfully suggest a consumer-grade coffee car so we can do something with our grinds after we make ourselves a damn good cup of coffee. Happy National Coffee Day, everyone.