Veggie oil fuels a land speed record

Powered along a dry lakebed in the Mojave Desert at 155 mph by a fuel made from a mix of cottonseed and sunflower oils, the Boise State club Greenspeed has smashed the land speed record for vegetable-oil powered vehicles.

Actually, the team set the record twice.

First, on Saturday, Nov. 12, they pulled off a 139-mph run in their 1998 S-10 pickup, easily beating the old record of 109 mph. 

Then the next day, they came back and smashed their own mark with the 155-mph run. 

“They set a goal that they knew would be hard to achieve and they stayed with it,” John Gardner, a Boise State professor of mechanical and biomedical engineering, director of the CAES Energy Efficiency Research Institute, and the group’s faculty advisor, told the university’s news site.

“It’s really a testament to their perseverance and their engineering skill. I’m really pleased to see them have such success.”

But apparently the team members – all undergraduates from Boise State’s College of Engineering – still aren’t satisfied. 

Their goal is to demonstrate that an alternative fuel can beat mainstream fuels by “overtaking the existing 215 mph record for petroleum-fueled trucks in their division.” 

They figure to get a chance to do that next summer at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah.

“We’ve learned a lot and are pretty confident we can pull it off,” said Dave Schenker, leader and founder of the club, who was behind the wheel for both record-breaking runs.

”The hard part was getting a vehicle running. Now it’s all about refinement.”

* Pete Danko, EarthTechling