BBC Science Team Builds Coffee Fueled Car... The Carpuccino

March 10, 2010 by Ted Goodman weblog
The car that runs on coffee, so you don't have to...?

( -- Think you need a lot of coffee to get going in the morning? How about 56 espressos? That’s the kind of power the experimental car, the "Carpuccino," needs just to travel one mile!

The coffee-guzzling 1988 Volkswagen Scirocco, was created for the Big Bang Science Fair, a BBC-sponsored traveling show for kids that begins in Manchester, England on March 11, 2010. It was built by the BBC1 team of Bang Goes The Theory, a popular science show for kids ages 8 to 14. Bang Goes The Theory will broadcast the Carpuccino’s escapades this May.

Carpuccino, the aptly-named mobile, will need approximately 155 pounds of , the equivalent of 11,760 espressos, to make the 210 mile trip from London to Manchester. At retail prices, the coffee would cost about 15 times the cost of gasoline, but BBC1 is using coffee grinds gathered from British-based coffee meister, Costa Coffee. (Note to self: add automobile fuel to list of 21 Ways To Use Old Coffee Grounds).

Carpuccino's fuel tank. (Image via Daily Mail)

Unfortunately, you can’t just pour the coffee grinds down your , so BBC1 built a special fuel system to convert the grinds into the “caffeine” needed for Carpuccino’s take-off. They are poured into a gas cylinder and heated in a charcoal fire, where the coffee breaks down into hydrogen and carbon monoxide before being piped into the Carpuccino’s roof-top radiator. There, the gases are cooled before passing through the car’s dual-filtering system which prevents tar and solids from entering the engine.

How The Carpuccino Works (Image via Daily Mail)

As you may have suspected, the Carpuccino’s tank doesn’t hold 155 pound of coffee required to make the trip from London to Manchester without refueling, so the team will have to stop every 30 to 45 miles to refuel. In addition, every 60 miles, the coffee filters will need changing! With all the stops, it’s estimated that Carpuccino will take about 10 hours to drive the 210 miles to Manchester.

Yes, it’s a grind, but it’s all in the name of Science, proving to young students that the more you know of it, the more anything is possible.

Explore further: Coffee seen to protect against cirrhosis

More information: Daily Mail:

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5 / 5 (1) Mar 10, 2010
They could engineer all of that and couldn't figure out how to make a tank that holds 155 pounds of coffee? Good thing they didn't design the car's seats!
not rated yet Mar 10, 2010
Now this is science!
More interesting than most of the junk hereabouts.
Wish now I owned Gloria Jeans or Starbucks, I would consider this an excellent form of recycling.

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