The Car-puccino: A Car that Runs on Coffee

This java-propelled car isn't powered by Sun; instead, it runs on leftover coffee grounds.

No beans about it: An automobile dubbed the "Car-puccino" has been designed to run only on leftover coffee grinds. The heavily-modified 1988 Volkswagen Scirocco was created for British TV show Bang Goes The Theory , a program that's all about "putting science to the test." To prove that just about anything can be turned into car fuel these days, Bang Goes The Theory will drive the Car-puccino 210 miles from London to Manchester using only residual coffee grounds as fuel.

This coffee-guzzling car combines Back to the Future styling (the Scirocco was picked because it was cheap and it resembles the DeLorean) and steampunk aesthetics (with a radiator grill on the roof), and achieves 1.4 miles per pound of java, or about 56 espressos per mile. Driving between London and Manchester will require over 150 pounds of grinds, plus stops every 30 to 45 miles to refill, as well as frequent breaks to clean the coffee filtering system.

The Daily Mail newspaper has photos and an infographic that describes how the Car-puccino works.

With the cost of coffee in the UK between $9 and $20 per pound, the Car-puccino's coffee will cost up to 50 times more than the gasoline required for a conventional auto. The Car-puccino has a top speed of 60 mph, ensuring the 210-mile journey will be slow and expensive, yet pleasant-smelling.

The Car-puccino works by heating the coffee grounds with charcoal until the beans break down into gaseous hydrogen and carbon monoxide. The resulting gas is then fed into a rooftop radiator, filtered for solids and tar, and then burned in the car's engine. Combined with the costs of charcoal and coffee beans, coffee-powered cars won't be passing their gas-sipping cousins in popularity anytime soon, but this still is a neat proof-of-concept.

If you're in the United Kingdom, check out the Car-puccino at the Big Bang Science Fair in Manchester this week, and watch the Bang Goes The Theory episode featuring this car on May 3. Will this car make the daily grind of driving more fun? Will it create a lasting buzz? Tell us on what grounds you think this car will be a success in the comments.

[Daily Mail via SlashGear / Photo: Selma90 on Flickr; used under Creative Commons license]

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This story, "The Car-puccino: A Car that Runs on Coffee" was originally published by PCWorld.

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