Coffee-Powered Car

Coffee-Powered Car Breaks World Record

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.


UK engineer and conservationist Martin Bacon took the notion of having a caffeine boost to a whole new level last month after setting a new world record for the fastest coffee-powered vehicle.

Driving his 'Bean Machine' - a Ford P100 pick-up he has converted by installing a gassifier at the back of the truck - the 42-year-old managed to drive at an average speed of 105.451 km/h (65.536 mph) during a run at Woodford Airfield in Stockport, Greater Manchester.

The modification allows the vehicle to make use of coffee chaff pellets - the waste product from coffee production. These are heated in a charcoal fire where they break down into carbon monoxide and hydrogen. The generated gas is then used to power the truck's regular petrol engine.

Starting the car is more of an art than simply turning an ignition key.   Martin fires up the boiler using kindling and a fire-lighter and then, having loaded the coffee pellets, has to wait for the gas pressure to build up.

Conditions on the day of the attempt were pretty chilly, but that didn't stop With the engine coaxed into a smooth purr,  and we were ready to start the challenge on a chilly morning on the runway of a disused aerodrome near Stockport (UK).  The first run was very good and was a lot quicker that the minimum of 100 km/h.

However, he needed to do a second run in the opposite direction within one hour to meet the stringent guidelines set by GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS.

His second run was somewhat slower, forcing Martin into some on-the-road tinkering to optimise the engine performance.

Following the adjustments, Martin was able to meet the challenge and set a new world record.  

Martin was backed by the Co-op food stores to mark their 10th anniversary of supporting the selling of Fairtrade coffee in their stores.

Speaking after the attempt, Martin said: 'We're thrilled to have taken the speed record for the fastest car of this kind.

'This Coffee Car has been years in the making, although any car can run on gasification.

'In fact, during the Second World War, there were over 100,000 vehicles in the UK that ran on gasification, including cars, buses and delivery vehicles.

'At the beginning of the 20th century, there were over 900,000 vehicles running on gasifiers across the world.'

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