Utah State University’s tiny drag racer, the Aggie A-Salt Streamliner, just set a land speed record at the Bonneville Salt Flats. It wasn’t a very fast speed — just 65.3 miles per hour — but considering the circumstances, it’s fairly staggering. Because the Aggie A-Salt Streamliner has a two-cylinder, one-liter, 22-horsepower engine that runs on discarded cheese.
A 22-horsepower engine is less powerful than some riding lawnmowers, so it’s pretty impressive that the Aggie A-Salt got up to highway speeds. Especially considering that it’s running on biofuel made out of industrial cheesemaking waste. The USU researchers used yeast to process the cheese waste into usable, sustainable fuel.
Unlike ethanol, this biofuel wouldn’t elbow out food crops, and the raw material is produced in abundance by industrial cheesemaking operations — although it’s still probably too hard to make cheese-diesel in sufficient quantities to affect our fuel consumption. (The engineers say it was even a challenge making enough to get through the race.) If we could, though, cities would be a lot more pleasant to own noses in. Apparently when the dragster runs it smells like someone baking bread, which is better than gas exhaust, and better than what you’d expect combusting cheese waste to smell like.