A Car Powered By…Caffeine?

Ahhhh, coffee: the cause of, and solution to, all of life’s sleep-deprivation problems. We love coffee, because it wakes us up, stimulates our taste buds, and gives us an excuse to flee our desk for short periods of time. Coffee is even inseparable from cars. Ever wonder why your cup holder perfectly fits any takeout coffee cup? There’s a reason.

But, despite all its wonderful features, coffee has never fueled our cars over the speed limit. Not, at least, until now. Watch out, car insurance companies … the high speed of a coffee-powered car is on its way.

How does it work? You just make some espresso and dump it in the gas tank, right? Well, not exactly. The Carpuccino, built by the Teesdale Conservation Volunteers, does not exactly run on the rich delicious brew you sip every morning. Instead, it’s more interested in the grounds.

The Carpuccino runs on a process called “gasification.” It works like this: biomass, in this case, your coffee grounds, are put in a chamber with a lot of oxygen and blasted with incredibly high heat, nearly 1300 degree Fahrenheit. This heat squeezes a lot of combustible elements out of the grounds, which are then burned to power the car.

It’s a process with a long history, and cars have been run on it for a while. The real problem has been getting meaningful power out of it … which the Volunteers did. The Carpuccino took the world speed record for a vehicle powered by gasification away from the Beaver, an American car powered by wood pellets, which had made a run at 45 mph.

How fast did the Carpuccino actually go? 66.5 miles per hour. Yep, this vehicle officially runs faster than most boring eco-cars. Finally, a car that allows us to be Earth-friendly, and still get speeding tickets!

The Teesdale Volunteers still have a lot of problems to lick: as of right now, gasification isn’t really practical for long-term trips. You’ll run out of coffee far too quickly, essentially. Mostly, this proves the concept.

But, when they do lick that problem, we have a proposal: The first coffee-making car.

Think about it for a minute. Every morning, we get up, we pour fresh grounds into the gas tank with a little water, that 1300-degree heat kicks in and, right in the cupholder, we get a nice fresh cup of the finest coffee we can afford.

Or, even better, since you’ll be putting in a lot of grounds, just have a tube running directly to the driver’s side, where you can easily have a fresh sip waiting for you. This will limit spills, while insuring everybody stays awake on the road.

Combine it with other safety features, and you literally have a car on the road that makes it as safe as possible to drive by keeping everyone aware, awake, and caffeinated. Although, maybe we should install a special sensor to keep people from having too much coffee: we want “awake,” not “twitchy.”

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