Caffeine fuelled car travels 250 miles

IT MIGHT not be turbo charged, but this eco-friendly car really has caffeine injection.

IT MIGHT not be turbo charged, but this eco-friendly car really has caffeine injection.

Fuelled only by waste coffee beans, the vehicle has been hitting the record books after travelling 260 miles, using 1kg of coffee per 1.6 miles.

And the brains behind the invention – a first in the UK – are Durham-based father and son Martin and Matthew Bacon, who run the Teesdale Conservation Volunteers, in Barnard Castle.

Although the pair have done similar projects in the past, it was their first challenge to make a coffee-fuelled car in just five days.

Martin and Matthew were contacted by the BBC science programme ‘Bang Goes the Theory’ after engineers and producers spotted their website and saw their past work.

Rising to the challenge, they both then travelled to Brighton armed with 100kg of waste coffee, which was sourced from local shops, and created the car from a modified 1988 Volkswagen Sirocco.

And the caffeine-turbo vehicle, which runs one mile on 56 espressos at a maximum speed of 60mph, made its debut journey at the weekend when engineer and presenter of Bang Goes the Theory’, Jem Stansfield, drove it from London to Manchester.

Mr Bacon Snr, who lives in Cotherstone, County Durham, said: “The BBC contacted saying they wanted us to build a gasifier to get a car running on coffee.

“They’d seen we’d done similar things in the past from a our website and wanted someone with a bit of knowledge.

“Just before Christmas, Matthew and I went down to Brighton where we had five days to build the car. We did it, no problems, and on the Friday we tested it out and it was running perfectly.

“We actually had to build everything in the car from scrap materials – the car itself was originally planned for the scrap yard.

“The car uses about 10kg of waste coffee to travel 16 miles. We actually got the waste coffee from local businesses around Barnard Castle – one big shop gave us 25kg of waste coffee a day.

“It was a fantastic experience and fantastic to work with the BBC team, who really got their hands dirty when it came to helping us out building it.”

But the debut journey from London to Manchester last week didn’t go to plan as heavy traffic forced the car to need to make frequent stops to be cleaned and re-fueled.

“The journey took 19 hours,” added Mr Bacon. “For eight hours of that, we were stuck in traffic and because of that ash kept on building up in the gasifier, which needed to cleaned out.

“We did only use 50kg of the 100kg of coffee that we had for the journey, however. It’s been said the car broke down but it didn’t – we just had to keep stopping to clean it.

“Because of the traffic, we ended up having to take a detour, which took us longer again.

“I think this is a message to our Government to start looking to waste products for fuel. Our next challenge is to look at other forms of waste and see what we can do with that.”

The car eventually made it to The Big Bang: UK Young Scientists’ and Engineers’ Fair in Manchester where adults and school children went along to learn how it worked.

The vehicle is now back home in Barnard Castle and Mr Bacon is offering to show it off to local schoolchildren and explain the science behind it. Anyone interested should call Mr Bacon on 01833 690 022.


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