Apple-fuelled bike is a corker

20th June 2008 at 01:00
A motorcycle has reached speeds of nearly 160mph using fuel made by A-level chemistry students from 6,000 crushed apples
A motorcycle has reached speeds of nearly 160mph using fuel made by A-level chemistry students from 6,000 crushed apples.

The Triumph Daytona 675 set a record of 158.7mph for a production motorbike using fuel distilled in the labs at Prince William School in Oundle, Northamptonshire.

The ground-breaking run, on a test track close to the school, was watched by the 15 students who had turned windfall apples into bioethanol, under the supervision of Anton McAleese, the school's head of chemistry.

The experiment - nicknamed Project Fast Food - was devised by Rupert Paul, editor of Bike magazine, who wanted to see how fast a high-performance bike could travel on biofuel made using only basic equipment. He chose Prince William School because Oundle is his home town.

"The school threw itself into the spirit of the experiment, seeing it as not only a chemistry challenge but fun as well," said Mr Paul.

"The students were thrilled to see the bike - lent by Triumph Motorcycles - achieve the record speed it did on apple juice. The experiment was all about exploring how much power we could get from biofuel.

"Although biofuels are still questionable from an environmental standpoint, they are here to stay."

The Daytona 675 was modified to run on bioethanol for the test and the injection system was revamped. Andrew Friggi, of Triumph, said: "Although this was a fun experiment, the fuel made by the students does have a serious side, and we're looking forward to reviewing the results."

To get 6,000 apples, the school lobbied staff and parents to bring in their windfalls. "The response was great," said Mr McAleese.

"We started off by giving the fruit a good bashing to break the apples up, before putting them into a cider press. They were then mixed with yeast and we brewed them in stacks of demijohns for around six weeks to make the fuel.

"The experiment meant the students could learn about advanced distillation, as well as producing something on a large scale - which is not normally possible in school labs."

Prince William School has a reputation for being a high flyer in chemistry, with six of its students getting Oxbridge places last year and 82 per cent achieving A*-C grades at A-level.

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