Coffee & Beer? The 6 Weirdest Alternative Fuel Sources

A trip to the gas station is about the most boring task in the modern world. But making fuel is a strange and fantastic journey—for scientists and inventors trying to find sustainable alternatives to gas and diesel. We need not limit ourselves to drilling and fracking. Check out these six weird fuel sources, which—even if not commercially scalable—can inspire us to get creative about satisfying the world’s energy needs.

For more information about fuel efficient cars, visit eBay Green Driving.

Photo Credit: Warwick

1. Coffee

In 2010, the UK’s Daily Mail reported that a team from a BBC science program successfully drove 210 miles from Manchester to London in a 1988 Volkswagen Scrirocco converted to run exclusively on roasted coffee granules. The vehicle was dubbed, “The Car-puccino.” The journey took 10 hours, and used about 70 kilos of ground coffee—yielding an efficiency of about 56 espressos per mile. A year later, also in the UK, a group of conservation volunteers, broke the world land speed record for cars powered by organic waste. Their fuel? Coffee grounds salvaged from local shops.

For more information about fuel efficient cars, visit eBay Green Driving.


2. Beer

In 2009, California beer maker Sierra Nevada collaborated with E-Fuel Corporation, a startup company that introduced the EFuel100 MicroFueler—a fridge-sized device that uses discarded beer yeast as a feedstock for ethanol. Millions of cars on American roads are flex-fuel, meaning they can use an 85 percent blend of ethanol. Sierra Nevada generates about 1.6 million gallons of “bottom of the barrel” beer yeast waste every year. In 2012, the E-Fuel Corporation introduced a production model of its MicroFueler home ethanol-making machine.

For more information about fuel efficient cars, visit eBay Green Driving.


3. Hemp

For hundreds of years, hemp was a major American crop used to make textiles. Given the fact that it grows so fast and easily, hemp could also become a major source of ethanol and biodiesel—without threatening food supplies. But the crop could make an even greater contribution to sustainable vehicles as a building material. Researchers at Warwick University believe hemp fiber could one day replace carbon fiber as a lightweight material for making efficient cars. In 2008, Lotus unveiled its “Eco Elise” at British International Motor Show. The sports car used hemp and other ethically farmed renewable crops for body panels, seats, and carpets.

For more information about fuel efficient cars, visit eBay Green Driving.Garbage

4. Garbage

Biofuels were all the rage just a few years ago. But even though the bubble has burst, interest in turning municipal solid waste into ethanol persists. The idea is hardly new. During World War II, more than one million vehicles in Europe used onboard gasifiers to make fuel from wood and charcoal. Gasification is the use of heat to transform solid biomass into flammable fuel. Coskata, one of the companies that lead the push for cellulosic ethanol during the boom, estimated that the U.S. could produce as much as 8 billion gallons of ethanol from waste. The company said that using solid waste to make fuel is also a great way to reduce our landfills.

For more information about fuel efficient cars, visit eBay Green Driving.


5. Chocolate

The same University of Warwick researchers who proposed using hemp to make car bodies proposed making fuel from chocolate. (These guys are awesome.) In 2009, the group built a Formula 3 racecar that ran on 30 percent biodiesel derived from chocolate waste. (Your mom will be happy to hear that the car’s steering wheel was partly made of carrots and other root vegetables.) The goal of the project was to show how motoring can be more environmentally responsible. “Anything with a fat in it can be turned into diesel,” said James Meredith, in an interview with The New York Times.

For more information about fuel efficient cars, visit eBay Green Driving.



6. Human Poop

In 2010, a team of British engineers—why is it always the Brits?—developed a car that runs on methane gas produced by, ahem, human waste. The car, dubbed the Bio-Bug, is a conventional VW Beetle converted to transition from unleaded gas to methane gas with the flip of a switch. Poop flushed down the toilets of about 70 homes is enough to power the car for about 10,000 miles. “If you were to drive the car you wouldn’t know it was powered by biogas. It performs just like any conventional car,” said Mohammed Saddiq, of GENeco, the sustainable energy firm that developed the prototype. “It is probably the most sustainable car around.”

For more information about fuel efficient cars, visit eBay Green Driving.



7 Places Poo Will Power the Future
Alternative Fuels 101: A Beginner’s Guide
Holy Cow! Bovine Gas Used to Power Milk Trucks


David C
David C2 months ago

all would hopes are mostly for stool/fecal matter and trash/garbage

Jo S.
Jo S2 years ago

Garbage is a great idea!

Jo Recovering
Jo S2 years ago

Thank you.

Warren Webber
Warren Webber2 years ago

Live long and prosper

Jess No Fwd Plz K.
Jessica K3 years ago

I like garbage as the best option, reusing and recycling something that probably can't be utilized too many other ways (human waste at least can be used for fertilizer, garbage not so much at least so far as I know). Chocolate is my least favorite option. There's already a shortage of it, and its very existence as a crop is getting into the threatened stage. Thanks.

Winn Adams
Winn A4 years ago


Frere Chatillon
Frere Chatillon4 years ago

A trip to the gas station must not be boring when it's the only shop around on Sunday night

Anna M.
A M4 years ago


Robert A.
Robert A4 years ago

Thanks for sharing.

heather g.
heather g4 years ago

Unfortunately, Canada has a right-wing federal government and they have not only downgraded environmental laws, the PM is gung-ho about developing the oil sands through the investment of foreign companies and building oil pipes over hundreds of miles. The pipes would pass through environmentally sensitive environments and the chosen developer has a frightful history of major oil leak accidents.

What is sad is that Canada now receives the top Dunce-awards at international conferences.
Local governments are not much more enlightened...