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Coffee-powered car buzzes past speed record

Do you need coffee to get going every morning? So does this car, which this month broke a Guinness World Record "for vehicles run on gas from organic waste."

The little engine that could make the most out of a cup of Joe. Martin Bacon

Ever wondered what we could do with those annoying used coffee grounds?

Engineer Martin Bacon and a group of volunteers from Teesdale Conservation in Durham, England, have been hard at work making those often-overlooked grinds into something special: gas for a speedy coffee-powered car.

This is not a joke; in fact, the car earlier this month broke a Guinness World Record "for vehicles run on gas from organic waste," according to the BBC. The coffee car--a modified Rover SD1--topped out at 77.5 miles per hour and hit average speeds of 66.5 mph after many modifications, including the removal of more than 550 pounds of excess weight from inside the vehicle.

The previous speed record in this category was 47.7 mph, set by the wood-burning Beaver XR7 in 2010.

The gasification system in the Coffee Car. (Click to enlarge.) Martin Bacon

The setup of the Coffee Car provides fuel to the V6 engine through an onboard wood gas generator (gasification) system, which in this case burns wood and coffee grounds at a high temperature (more than 1292 F). The result is a synthetic gas, or syngas, made of carbon monoxide, hydrogen, and methane capable of powering an internal combustion engine.

"Some of the clean gas is also being compressed to 150 PSI and injected directly into the manifold to achieve top speed," according to the Coffee Car Web site. "The cooling system is configured using an intercooler with two 12-volt fans attached."

Check out the video below that shows more about how the Coffee Car works; the BBC has a video showing the record-breaking attempt. It's worth noting that this team has also broken the world record for the longest distance driven by a coffee-powered car in a trip from London to Manchester, which is roughly 209 miles.