A cheese-powered dragster designed by researchers at Utah State University (USU) set a new speed record for a vehicle of its type, reaching a shade over 65 mph (104 km/h) at the Utah Salt Flats Racing Association's 2012 World of Speed event in September. No prize Stilton was wasted in the pursuit of glory however, as the vehicle runs on yeast biodiesel derived from the industrial waste of cheese production.
While reaching a top speed of 65.34 mph (105.16 km/h) may not seem very impressive compared to the capabilities of modern gas-guzzling sports cars, it was enough to snag the USU team and their “Aggie A-Salt Streamliner” dragster a new speed record for a one liter, two-cylinder engine car of its type. The achievement represents over a year’s work to both design the dragster from scratch, and produce suitable biofuel in large enough quantities.
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“Developing a biofuel on a large enough scale to run in the dragster was a tough undertaking,” explained USU biochemist Alex McCurdy, a third-year doctoral student, who is the recent recipient of a departmental environmental chemistry award. “It’s one thing to produce a small amount in the lab and discuss how it will work in theory. It’s another to actually put it in a dragster, while everyone watches it take off.”
The Aggie A-Salt Streamliner dragster was driven in multiple runs at the World of Speed event, using both standard petroleum diesel and the yeast biofuel. Impressively, the biofuel run was able to match the speed offered by the petroleum variant.
The researchers at USU continue to develop and test the biofuel, reporting excellent horsepower and fuel emissions.
The video below shows the dragster in action.