A team of researchers at Utah State University (USU) set a land speed record at Bonneville Salt Flats Speedway in their dragster, powered entirely by an unusual fuel: yeast biodiesel derived from the industrial waste of cheese production. Yup, it’s a cheese-powered dragster.
The top speed reached by the Aggie A-Salt Streamliner was just 65.344 miles per hour, not exactly what you’d expect for a land speed record, but because the dragster’s engine is a one-liter, two-cylinder model, the run qualified for the best in its class. The first speed run by the dragster was powered by petroleum diesel, and the second run, using the yeast biodiesel, confirmed that the biofuel performed as well as the conventional diesel in the car.
The interdisciplinary team included members of the colleges of Science and Agriculture, as well as the Department of Plants, Soils, and Climate at USU. The researchers have been working to perfect the production of the biofuel using yeast and bacterial platforms for over a year, and are also developing fuel from CO2 and the sun using microalgae.
The team’s novel vehicle was one of about 200 racers competing at the Utah Salt Flats Racing Association’s 2012 World of Speed event in September.