Car-puccino

Science & Technology by

Many people drink coffee to wake themselves up in the morning or stay focussed throughout their day. But a team of scientists from BBC’s Bang Goes the Theory have taken the term “running on coffee” to another extreme: they have built a car that runs on coffee rather than gasoline.

The modified 1988 Volkswagen Scirocco, aptly named the Car-puccino, functions just like a normal car, but instead of guzzling gas, it chugs coffee. Even though coffee might be cheaper than gasoline, it contains far less chemical energy, so the car is actually 25 times more expensive to drive than a conventional car. On average, the Car-puccino consumes more than 50 espresso’s worth of coffee beans per mile.

In order to make it run on such unconventional fuel, the car had to be heavily modified. It now features a large brown pipe running down the side, and a canister for fuel on the back. When running, the car burns the coffee to break it down to hydrogen and carbon monoxide, which are used to run the engine. The gases are liquefied before being filtered for any solid, or otherwise harmful parts. The resulting fuel is sent to the engine for burning. Unlike for humans, the caffeine in the coffee is not the most important part.

The car will be driven the 210 miles from London to Manchester for presentation at the Big Bang Science Fair. During the journey, it’s expected to use about 70 kilograms of coffee, not counting the drivers.