Nicknamed the Car-puccino, the car that runs on roasted coffee granules has today been unveiled in the UK.
Based on a 1988 Volkswagen Scirocco, the car has been built by a team from the UK’s BBC science program ‘Bang Goes the Theory’, and will be driven from Manchester to London (approx. 340kms) where it will go on display at the Big Bang Science Fair.
Costing between 25 to 50 times the amount of its petrol-powered derivative to run, the coffee-powered car certainly won’t win any friends among auto industry bean-counters, but instead is an exercise aimed at proving how fuels other than petrol and diesel can be used to power vehicles.
The team piloting the Carpuccino estimate the car will consume one kilogram of coffee for every five kilometres traveled. Using around 70 kilograms of coffee to complete the trip, that’s roughly AUD$3000 worth of coffee (based on supermarket prices).
In total, the trip will use the equivalent of 11,760 espressos, with ‘coffee breaks’ required every 80 kilometres for refueling. The team will also need to stop every 100 kilometres to clean out the ‘coffee filters’ which will fill with soot and tar.
The Carpuccino has a top speed of 100km/h, but given the amount of stops required, it is estimated the trip will take up to ten hours.
“Coffee, like wood or coal, has some carbon content so you can use it as a fuel,” said Mr Nick Watson, producer of Bang Goes The Theory.
“The coffee needs to be very dry and in pellets to allow the air to move through the pile of coffee as it burns. The brand doesn’t matter.”
Mr Watson said the same gasification process could be used to power a car on other unusual fuels, such as woodchips, walnut shells, construction debris, agricultural waste or landfill.
To save money, and to help the environment, the team are using dried waste coffee grounds from a franchise coffee shop.