Dodge Rampage Goes 135 MPH On Algae Biodiesel

A team of researchers from Utah State University has taken an 80s compact Dodge Rampage pickup and turned it into a biodiesel-powered land speed racer. This isn’t just any biodiesel though; it was created using a unique combination of algae and safflower seeds.

Racer Steve Menendez and UTU research Michael Morgan teamed up on this unique project, which they brought to the Bonneville Salt Flats to set a new biodiesel-powered world record. While there is no official biodiesel class, unofficially the modified Dodge Rampage hit 135 MPH on the salt flats, beating the previous unofficial record by some 30 MPH using a 20% blend of the algae/safflower seed biodiesel. The B20 blend apparently worked perfectly.

This unique fuel is fed into a 1.5 liter Volkswagen turbodiesel engine powering the front wheels. Yes, the Dodge Rampage (a 1984 vintage in this case) is a front-wheel drive compact truck, one of the few to ever grace American shores, and Menendez appears to have kept it that way for his land speed run if this dyno video from last year is any indication.

Using algae as a means to create biodiesel is nothing new, as millions of dollars have been poured into research to create an easy-to-farm renewable fuel. Unfortunately cost still remains a major factor with algae fuels, though the US Navy has been using a jet fuel blend to power a small fleet of aircraft. Biodiesel racing is also a growing trend, with college students and big truck drivers alike embracing greener biofuels to sate their need for speed.

I give this algae-powered Dodge Rampage two green thumbs up.


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