11,760 espressos in one car trip – presenting the Car-puccino

There’s a show on in the UK called “Bang Goes The Theory” (the name of the show a take off on an sports broadcasting meme) that commisioned the building of a car that we here at Cuppacafe can only admire and wish to one day drive — a car that runs on coffee!

Yes, running on the same substance that fuels this blog, coffee can be used to generate hydrogen, and then that hydrogen can be used to fuel this 1988 Volkswagon Sirocco. (Note the resemblance to the famed DeLorean car from the Back To The Future movies)

The Car-Puccino, the car the runs on coffee beans

Great in theory, but in practice? Well, the car got the jitters.

From the UK’s Daily Mail here’s the story of how it was supposed to happen:

The car will be driven the 210 miles between Manchester and London powered only by roasted coffee granules. It has been built by a team from the BBC1 science programme Bang Goes The Theory and will go on display at the Big Bang science fair in Manchester to show how fuels other than conventional petrol and diesel can power vehicles.

The team calculates the Carpuccino will do three miles per kilo of ground coffee – the equivalent of about 56 espressos per mile.

The journey will use about 70 kilos of ground coffee which, at supermarket prices of between £13 and £26 a kilo depending on brand and quality, will cost between £910 and £1,820, or between 25 and 50 times the £36 cost of petrol for the journey.
56 espressos per mile: A member of the team Bang Goes The Theory works to convert the car

In total, the trip will use the equivalent of 11,760 espressos, and the team will have to take ‘coffee breaks’ roughly every 30 to 45 miles to pour in more granules.

They will also have to stop about every 60 miles to clean out the ‘coffee filters’ to rid them of the soot and tar which is also generated by the process.

So despite a top speed of 60mph, the many stops mean the going will be slow, with the journey taking around ten hours.

But it seems that the planned amount of coffee to be used and the time to change out the coffee filters (Yes, you read that right, they have filters to keep the nasty parts of the coffee out of the engine, but in this case it’s tar from the burned coffee beans) was a bit too much to handle while on the British roadways, and so the thing kept breaking down having to wait on the side of the road to clean the coffee crap out of the system:

The 210-mile road trip had trouble from its start in London as it sputtered on its way to Manchester before breaking down outside Birmingham for two hours.

The modified 1988 Volkswagen Sirocco broke down about four times, forcing the driver – Bang Goes the Theory’s Jem Stansfield – to wait on the side of the motorway while his team cleaned the engine.

The carpuccino car waits for the foam to settle a bit

Now, this isn’t exactly the Mr. Fusion that we were promised by Doc Brown in Back To The Future, but using coffee grounds to power a car is rather fun — to watch.

If a car that runs on old fryer grease smells like french fries, I would imagine driving behind this Carpuccino Car would be a bit of a slice of heaven…