Isn’t a chocolate car on par with a chocolate teapot? Perhaps but the car isn’t made out of chocolate, rather it is powered by it. According to today’s Independent two Britons have embarked on a trek across Europe and West Africa which aims to show that chocolate could be a new, clean mode of transport.
Andy Pag and John Grimshaw left Poole ferry yesterday in a Ford Iveco Cargo lorry powered by fuel which began life as chocolate, in an attempt to raise awareness of "green" biofuels. Their 4,500-mile (7,250 km) trip across the Sahara desert to Timbuktu in Mali should take about three weeks. The pair has taken with them a small processing unit to convert waste oil products into fuel, which they will then donate to an African charity, along with the lorry. They are taking 2,000 litres (454 gallons) of biodiesel made from 4,000kg (8,818lb) of chocolate misshapes – equivalent to 80,000 chocolate bars.
The pair will drive across France and Spain and then catch another ferry to Morocco. The will then cross the country to Mauritania and from there, they will drive to Timbuktu in two converted 4x4 Toyota Land Cruisers, which are carried in the main lorry. The pair wanted to come up with a trip that would be carbon neutral. They contacted a Preston company, Ecotec, which had been testing a biofuel made from waste chocolate collected from factories. Ecotec turned the waste chocolate into bio-ethanol by mixing it with vegetable oil collected from restaurants.
Mr Pag said: "Timbuktu is renowned as being the back of beyond, the furthest place away that you can possibly imagine. If we can make it there with biofuel, there is no reason why motorists can't use it on the school run or their commute to work." Mr Pag said he hoped the expedition would encourage people to think about their carbon footprint when travelling. He added: "I have made many expeditions and visited these amazing landscapes but to get there I have contributed to their destruction by driving a guzzling diesel engine."I wanted to do something that is carbon neutral. What we have actually done is carbon negative."
There’s nothing wrong in what Messrs Pag and Grimshaw are doing and converting waste products into biofuel is not a great idea (if the energy input involved in conversion is significantly less that the fuel’s output of course). What does concern me greatly is the prospect of a large amount of arable land in the third world being turned over to biodiesel crop production just to sate the fuel thirst of developed nations. That could well be a (yet another) recipe for disaster