Boise State students gunning for land speed record with biofuel, this time 215 mph

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Last November, the Boise State University student team called Greenspeed broke the land speed record for a truck (in its class) that uses vegetable oil with a run of 155 miles per hour. Now, they're confidently ready to go after the faster, dirtier, petroleum-powered trucks.

To get that record, the modified 1998 Chevrolet S-10 pick-up truck – which has a dual-fuel powertrain that burns both regular diesel to start and then straight vegetable oil – will need to go faster than 215 miles per hour. The Greenspeed team announced its intent at the Washington Auto Show last week and hopes to set the new record during Speedweek at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah this August.

Even though the team of students is filled with confidence, the truck has not exactly been put through the on-road ringer. Thus far, it's only driven about 4.5 miles burning SVO, since it only does so on the test track. The 155-mph record was set on a 1.3-mile dry lakebed called El Mirage in the Mojave Desert at a Southern California Timing Association race. That short distance is also why the team is confident it can hit 215 mph. At Bonneville, the 780 horsepower powertrain will have three miles to really get going.

Idaho Senator James Risch (R) came by during the show to stand on a piece of Boise State's famous blue turf and congratulate the team. He said that, "This is one way we can move away from dependence on oil and to a self-sustaining nation." This may be true, but Sen. Risch still supports importing more fossil fuels into the U.S.

Watch a short video of the team being interviewed after the jump.

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Boise State University's student club Greenspeed, which built the world's fastest vehicle that runs on vegetable oil, announced today its intention to overtake the existing 215-mph record for petroleum-fueled trucks in their division.

Greenspeed made the announcement from the Washington Auto Show, the largest public show in Washington, D.C. The team, its truck and their accomplishments are being highlighted as part of the show's overarching theme of "Safety and Sustainability in Motion." The auto show is the premier place for showcasing the latest innovations in sustainable technologies and draws the most influential leaders in the auto industry.

This August, the team again will use vegetable oil in hope of setting more records by breaking the existing 215-mph world land speed record for all vehicles in the Diesel Truck classification, including those that burn traditional fuel. Their first attempt will come during Speedweek at the famed Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah.

Greenspeed's souped-up 1998 Chevrolet S-10 pick-up truck shattered the existing 98-mph record for vegetable oil-fueled vehicles in November with a run of 139 mph on a dry lakebed called El Mirage in the Mojave Desert at a Southern California Timing Association race. The next day, the team broke its own record with a run of 155 mph. The project was designed to demonstrate the potential of vegetable oil as an alternative to traditional petroleum fuel products.

"Greenspeed is leading by example to show that you don't have to sacrifice performance for sustainability," said Mark Rudin, vice president for research and economic development. "A truck that goes 200 mph on vegetable oil is hardly a practical machine, but it plays a critical role in dispelling persistent myths that there is something magical or special about petroleum. Sustainable fuels can be good fuels."

The students of Greenspeed are examples of how seemingly insurmountable barriers fall in the face of persistence, hard work, innovation and determination. Months of fundraising, scrimping and piecing together a truck valued at $125,000 gave them their first shot at the record last September on the Salt Flats, but the team ran out of time to put the truck through the paces while running on vegetable oil. However, two runs burning diesel fuel proved that the truck was capable of running the speeds needed to break the record. A second attempt on "the Salt" a few weeks later ended as soon as it began with a busted engine on their first run. In November, their efforts finally paid off at El Mirage.

The club, made up of undergraduates from the College of Engineering, includes Jenny Kniss; Ken Fukumoto of Portland, Ore.; Adrian Rothenbuhler of Bern, Switzerland; Patrick Johnston of Boise; Seth Fueurborn of Pocatello; Mike Van Kirk of Boise; and Dave Schenker of Ketchum. Schenker is the leader and founder of the club and the driver of the truck during its record-breaking runs.

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