Automotive student steps project up a gear

Alex Cooper, Alex Heaton and the bio-diesel powered Peugeot 205

A Staffordshire University student has converted his lecturer¹s car to run on used vegetable oil as a finale to his degree studies.

Alex Cooper, 23, who is set to graduate with a BSc (Hons) in Automotive Design Technology, conducted a study into the practical and theoretical uses of used vegetable oil as his final year project.

As a practical application of his project work, Alex stepped up a gear and converted an ageing Peugeot 205, belonging to his award leader Alex Heaton, to run on bio-diesel.

Alex , who has already landed a job as an Advanced Quality Engineer with Gillingham based Delphi diesel, said: "My project concluded that biofuels are viable means of subsidising the current fuel market but that the industry should look towards using different crops as sharing food crops is pushing prices up. Crops such as Jathropa which is a very woody plant could be grown in non arable regions that are unsuitable for other types of farming."

Lecturer Alex Heaton said: ³Alex did a good job and the car runs just as well as it did before if not better. Bio-fuels is an increasing part of our automotive awards as we are having to look towards alternative fuels and the most energy-efficient solutions.²

This is recognised through a developing relationship with Stone-based truck racer Dave Jenkins whose vehicles run on biodiesel and whose performance is monitored and analysed by students on Staffordshire University¹s automotive awards.

Dave, who races a mechanically-injected truck as well as an electronically injected truck, is currently in third place in class A and class B of the British Truck Racing Association Championships.

He said: "Truck racing has a very high visual element to it characterised by the presence of black smoke and we used Biofuels to clean up our act, only to discover that there was no performance loss as all, in fact we believe the trucks run better. We feel that the developing relationship with the Uni can only benefit our performance."

* For more information contact Maria Scrivens, Staffordshire University press office, on 01785 353401 or 01785 353608.