Full steam ahead! After a slew of false starts and technical difficulties, the British Steam Car just broke the world land speed record for a steam-driven vehicle by hitting a scorching average speed of 139.843mph! Dubbed the “fastest kettle in the world“, the 25-ft long car smashed the century old record of 127mph at 8:19 this morning at Edward’s Air Force Base in California.
Driver Charles Burnett III says: “It was absolutely fantastic I enjoyed every moment of it. We reached nearly 140mph on the first run before I applied the parachute. All systems worked perfectly, it was a really good run. The second run went even better and we clocked a speed in excess of 150 mph. The car really did handle beautifully.”
Prior to smashing the world record set by American Fred Marriott in 1906, the spaceshuttle-esque vehicle was able to reach speeds of 129mph in a single run, but the attempt was cut short when engineers decided to investigate why it was not going even faster. The issue turned out to be an open valve which was allowing steam to escape into the atmosphere from one of the car’s 12 boilers. After repairs the vehicle was fired up again this morning and conducted two official runs where it hit blistering top speeds of 136mph and 151mph, setting a new international record.
How exactly does this alternatively-powered steam car run? Twelve boilers, which run on liquid petroleum gas, heat water to temperatures of 752F (400C) which is injected into a turbine to run the engine. The 12 boilers can get through 220 gallons of water in 25 minutes, and can pump out 8.8 gallons of steam a minute. Congratulations to the team for their tremendous success after 10 years of hard work!