Thursday, November 29, 2007

Biodiesel Chocolate Truck - Off to Timbuktu

Willie Wonka and the Chocolate (biodiesel) Truck


Two men left England last Friday on their way to Timbuktu in a truck powered by chocolate.

For the sake of accuracy, the truck is powered with biodiesel fuel made from “waste chocolate” (I never knew there was such a thing as waste chocolate!).

Leaving from England on a ferry across the English channel, the team of Andy Pag and John Grimshaw plan to make their 4.500 mile journey in approximately three weeks.

Using cocoa butter extracted from a confectioner’s misshapen chocolate “rejects”, the truck will carry 454 gallons of biodiesel fuel. The Ford Iveco Cargo truck is carrying two smaller vehicles for the final hard slog across the Sahara desert, all powered with standard engines fueled with biodiesel. The final cost of the fuel is calculated at about $1.16 per gallon.

Carbon Neutral All the Way to Timbuktu

The trip is billed as the first carbon neutral journey across the Sahara desert. To achieve that neutrality, the pair will offset the carbon produced from the journey by delivering a biofuel processing unit built upon their arrival in Mali. The device is built by Ecotek in the UK, the same company that designed the process to convert the chocolate bits to biofuel.

The processing unit will be delivered directly to Mali-Folkecenter (MFC), a charity organization that works with developing enterprise in rural and under served communities through environmental and renewable energy projects. The biodiesel processor will be used by local woman to convert waste cooking oil into fuel, bring in some supplemental income, employ two technicians, and provide low carbon fuel for local vehicles.

Ostensibly, the purpose of the trip is to encourage Peg and Grimshaw’s fellow Britons to use biofuels as an alternative to fossil fuel.

I don’t believe all biofuels are “created equal” or are a panacea or total solution to our dependence on fossil fuel (see my earlier post on the subject), but developing a process that converts waste chocolate into fuel serves as another example of how innovative thinking can help pave the way to viable alternative solutions to fossil fuel use. The road to good ideas sometimes leads to unexpected places, powered by creative thinking and, well, chocolate!

Follow the team’s progress at and keep on trucking

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Mali has big potential to expand peanut,cassava,jatropha,sugarcane ,sweet sorghum,sweet potatoes ,corn and soy beans plantations to cover its biodiesel needs and export for country development and oil imports substitiution