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.”

greenspeed record vegetable oil

image via Boise State University

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.”

Greenspeed from Greenspeed on Vimeo.

Help Carbonfund toward their goal of planting 1,000,000 trees. Subscribe to Green Earthling Deals by Friday, Nov. 25, 2011, and EarthTechling will donate $1 for every new subscriber. See contest rules for details. Sign up in the upper right-hand corner at EarthTechling.com or right here.

Sports columnist, newspaper desk guy, website managing editor, wine-industry PR specialist, freelance writer—Pete Danko’s career in media has covered a lot of terrain. The constant along the way has been a fierce dedication to knowing the story and getting it right. Danko's work has appeared in Wired, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.