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Car fuelled by coffee: 70mph 'car-puccino’ nears end of journey

A 70mph car fuelled by coffee was last night nearing the end of a jittery journey from London to Manchester.

The vehicle — dubbed “car-puccino” — is powered by nothing but used coffee grounds.

It took the equivalent of 10,000 espressos to complete the 210-mile trip, interrupted by refuelling coffee stops every 40 miles.

The car, based on a 1988 VW Scirocco bought on eBay for £400, was the creation of engineer Jem Stansfield, presenter of the BBC1 show Bang Goes The Theory.

A furnace in the boot roasts coffee grounds to generate flammable vapours that fuel the engine.

Jem's route from BBC TV Centre in London took him through Birmingham, Coventry and Crewe.

Steering a coffee-powered car in heavy traffic and along motorways was an unusual driving experience to say the least.

Speaking about 30 miles from Manchester, Jem said: “I'm learning more every mile I go. At the same time as driving in the normal way you have an extra control for the gas production plant in the back.

“You've got to get the gas production to match what the vehicle needs depending on what it's doing.

“Effectively, it's a charcoal burner. If you get it wrong, the engine starts drawing more gas from the burner and the whole thing runs away from itself. If you were stationary it would probably blow up, but if you're moving it just gets faster and faster.”

Jem said it was reaching speeds of 55-70mph on motorways.

“I think 70 is about as much as it will do”, he said.

The coffee is fed into the furnace from a hopper containing about two shopping bags of grounds. Extra bags were carried in a following “support vehicle”.

“On the motorway it's an absolute joy to drive,” Jem added. “There's no occasional misfiring; it purrs along. It's going to be a bit of a come down getting back in a normal car.”

The idea was to demonstrate how a cheap and easily obtainable waste product can be used to generate energy.

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