Chocolate Biodiesel Powers Truck from England to Timbuktu

LONDON, UK, November 26, 2007 (ENS) – Biodiesel made from waste chocolate is fueling the journey of two British men who left the town of Poole, on England’s southern coast Friday headed for Timbuktu, Mali in West Africa. They are using the trip to raise public awareness about biofuels and their potential to ease the impact of climate change.

Andy Pag of London and John Grimshaw of Poole have nicknamed their big Ford Iveco Cargo truck the BioTruck. It will carry their chocolate biodisel fuel and two smaller vehicles for crossing the Sahara Desert.

Propelled by the unique biodisel, they expect to take about three weeks to drive the 4,500 miles to Timbuktu from London, planning to make it to Timbuktu on December 16.

They aim to encourage UK motorists to fill up on biofuels. “If we use biodiesel to get to Timbuktu with a standard engine, there’s no reason why people in the UK can’t use it for their commute or school run,” said Pag.

The BioTruck team is attempting the first ever carbon negative driving expedition across the Sahara Desert. To reach this goal, they will use a mix of carbon cutting techniques, including biofuels and carbon offsetting.
MFC workers experiment with biodiesel processing. (Photo courtesy BioTruck)

As an offset, they intend to deliver a small biodeisel processing unit to a Mali renewable energy charity that specializes in developing enterprise through environmental projects.

The group receiving the biofuels processor is Mali-Folkecenter, MFC, which represents the Danish Folkecenter for Renewable Energy.

MFC will assist local women to use the new Ecotec unit to convert their used cooking oil into biodiesel. It will supplement their housekeeping funds, provide employment for one or two technicians, and produce carbon neutral fuel for local vehicles.

In addition, the project will serve as a partial carbon offset for the BioTruck expedition.

“When measuring the carbon footprint of the expedition we will factor in the offsetting effect of the carbon saved by the fuel that is produced over the next 12 months following the expedition,” say Pag and Grimshaw, who expect the project to save 15 metric tons of carbon emissions in the first year alone.

The outcome is being analyzed with independent assistance from CarbonAided, using industry standard methodologies to verify the carbon negative claim.

CarbonAided says the manufacture and use of the sweet smelling chocolate biodiesel emits just a tenth of the carbon footprint of fossil diesel.

Pag and Grimshaw will drive south across France and Spain and then take a ferry to Morocco. From there they will drive across the country to Mauritania and cross Africa through the Sahara Desert to Timbuktu.
Adventurers and sponsors hold bowls of chocolate mistakes that form the feedstock for Ecotc chocolate biodiesel. The vehicle is one of two Landcruisers that will cross the Sahara Desert on chocolate biodiesel. (Photo courtesy BioTruck)

To make it across the moving desert sands and rough roads of Mali, Pag and Grimshaw will drive two converted 4×4 Toyota Land Cruisers, which are carried in the BioTruck.

The two adventurers are carrying 2,000 liters of biodiesel produced from 4,000 kilos of chocolate mistakes made by a major confectionery company.

The process of converting the misshapen chocolates into an eco-friendly, cheap fuel is the brainstorm of Ecotec Resources UK Ltd, a Lancashire firm based in the village of Bamber Bridge.

Ecotec developed a proprietary process for converting waste chocolate from the nearby factory into bioethanol on an industrial scale. Previously this waste was thrown away in landfill sites but now the bioethanol it makes can be used for fuel in petrol-burning cars and in the production of biodiesel.

The final cost of the chocolate-derived biodiesel is 15 pence a liter, or about US$1.16 a gallon.

In addition to its new chocolate biodiesel product, Ecotec manufactures biodiesel processors and reactors for the domestic and commercial markets, provides biodiesel training, maintenance and technical support, and supplies bulk quantities of biodiesel to the commercial market and to large and small fleet operators.

“Biodiesel is a perfectly suitable replacement for fossil diesel, in fact it has better lubrication qualities than fossil diesel and recent tests by Porsche on behalf of Mercedes proclaimed that the qualities of biodiesel could extend an engine’s life considerably,” the company says.

Pag says he hopes the trip to Timbuktu, a city already feeling the effects of climate change, will make more people realize that ordinary diesel cars can run on biodiesel easily and cheaply, without any adaptations and thereby help to reduce global warming.

View This Story On Eco-mmunity Map.