Boise State veggie-oil diesel tries for 215 mph

January 2012 News

Boise State University has a shocking blue football field, a talented squad to use it and, we now know, the fastest vegetable-oil-fueled diesel truck anywhere.

The 1998 Chevrolet S-10, fitted with a much-beefed-up 5.9-liter Cummins diesel from a 1993 Dodge Ram pickup, hit 155 mph last November on El Mirage, dry lakebed in the Mojave Desert. The truck, fielded by a Boise State student organization called Greenspeed, broke its own record of 139 mph set the previous day. Before that, the record was 98 mph for -- who knew there was such a racing category -- vegetable-oil-fueled vehicles.

The truck and its dedicated student cadre told their story at the Washington, D.C., auto show today. The university says the speed records have been certified by the Southern California Timing Association, a well-recognized sanctioning body for records.

This August, Greenspeed, whose members are engineering undergrads who happen to have interest and experience in various motor sports such as off-roading, motorcyling and plain old hot-rodding, plans to kick the big diesel into "go" at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, where world land speed records are set. The team is confident it can top 215 mph because the Bonneville straightaway is much longer than the straights where it set the previous records.

If Greenspeed does that, it will set a speed record for diesel trucks, regardless of what type of diesel fuel they burn.

Vegetable oil, the same you'd use for cooking, or on a salad, is about twice as expensive as gasoline or conventional diesel fuel, so what's the point here?

"There's a misconception that you lose power with bio fuels," says Dave Schenker, president of Greenspeed and driver of the strange machine. "So we're taking the least-refined fuel you could get" and showing it can generate huge power.

The implication being: If a diesel truck will top 200 mph on this stuff, think what it could do on actual, well-refined bio-diesel fuel made from growing things that can keep growing and providing the basis for non-traditional diesel.

Refining removes impurities and unwanted chemicals, leaving a more energy-dense fuel good for more power when burned.

Boise State's veggie mobile puts out 708 hp and 1,099 pounds-feet of torque,
Schenker says, both numbers measured at the truck's rear wheel using a dynamometer. That's more than twice what a typical diesel truck delivers.

All meant to call positive attention to an overlooked renewable fuel, bio-diesel.


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