Gallery: TRANSPORTATION TUESDAY: Chocolate powered biodiesel


Chocolate is a guilty pleasure for some, but could soon prove highly nutritious — for your car! Thanks to a process created by British company Ecotec, it is now possible to take waste chocolate from confectionery companies and turn it into biodiesel. And to prove that it works, two British adventurers just completed a trek on a chocolate powered truck that went all the way from Europe to Timbuktu!

Andy Pag and John Grimshaw were the drivers of the chocolate powered Ford Iveco Cargo lorry. They traveled a distance of 4,500 miles for almost an entire month in a trip that took them through France, Spain, Morocco, Mauritania and all the way to Timbuktu and doing so while facing the unforgiving Saharan Desert. The trip was not just for fame and glory, as they took with them a small processing unit with them that converts waste oil products into fuel, which they will donate to an African charity. For those of you wondering whether you can eat or even smell the chocolate, the answer unfortunately is no. As to how much equivalent chocolate was used to make it all the way to Africa? about 80,000 chocolate bars.

“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 Andy Pag.

+ The Biotruck drive to Timbuktu


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  1. Jac March 5, 2008 at 7:42 pm

    I’m not a supporter of biodiesel, so what that it cuts the reliance on petrol. It’s also driving inflation of all foods, making the poor feel poorer. While it’s not exactly something we can control, it is happening.

  2. Rich January 31, 2008 at 2:23 pm

    To the naysayers:
    Anyone (like the chocolate people above) who has any idea (actually a very clever idea) , any energy (mental and physical) to apply to the challenges, any hope, any optimism, any care about their planet and humankind should be lauded and supported. These people are thinkers and dooers whilst the critics do absolutely nothing but smoke polluting pipes and ‘judge’ others hard work and hope.
    My opinion is “if you ain’t doin’ the work, you have no opinion.!” Keep it up!
    I personally will make my own biodiesel and try to eliminate unnecessary travel, use my bicycle as much as possible, and waste not lighting, or other stuff. I have a child and he no doubt will have children as well. I am doing this all for them and myself.

  3. Kyle January 14, 2008 at 11:11 am

    Your website supports many info on biodisel. My class is working on biodisel information. Ty

  4. Itzelh A. January 12, 2008 at 1:15 pm

    hiya!Thats really cool in what you did to help the UK!I hope you do more like that!Well byebye!

  5. Hypography Science Foru... January 2, 2008 at 9:30 pm

    […] Chocolate is a guilty pleasure for some, but could soon prove highly nutritious for your car! Thanks to a process created by British company Ecotec, it is now possible to take waste chocolate from confectionery companies and turn it into biodiesel. And to prove that it works, two British adventurers just completed a trek on a chocolate powered truck that went all the way from Europe to Timbuktu! Inhabitat TRANSPORTATION TUESDAY: Chocolate powered biodiesel […]

  6. Richie January 2, 2008 at 8:29 pm

    Hi Folks,

    The deleted links are: (put an http:// in front of that)


    Yours truly in energy independence,


  7. Richie January 2, 2008 at 8:25 pm

    Hi Folks, thanks for all your interesting points. Richie here… again.

    In talking over a possible solar panel/wind turbine system for a house in the tropics… I came to the conclusion that a 2 staged process makes sense. Stage 1… is buy an inverter and battery packs, so that regular grid supplied electricity can keep a battery powered backup system ‘online’. Step 2… is add wind generator & controller, and solar elements & controller. However… maybe the rental, not purchase, model of: will offset the costs ?

    If the citizenre thing kicks in, the whole package could be online for less than $10K… and when the ‘NanoSolar’ stuff hits, it will get even cheaper. Low cost Wind and Solar is here now. And it’s getting better faster.


    Interesting times. Maybe we’re having a ‘bottom up’ evolution ? I hope so.

    Don’t forget that it takes POWER to process coffee grounds, chocolate waste and whatever into biodiesel. Just how realistic and cost effective is biodiesel from garbage really ? Brazil cultivates millions of acres of sugar cane to create their biodiesel ? As a crop, Sugar Cane REALLY screws up the soil… And the vast cleared areas of land that Brazil is using to grow all that sugar cane IS THE RAINFOREST !!!!!!

    When you pay $90K for Tesla Roadster electric sports car which whips Ferrari butt from 0-60 and then some… adding 10K for a solar wind system at the homestead, to power the abode and charge the car, seems eminently doable. Okay… first a $90K roadster… then the $30K family vehicle follows. First… expensive wind and solar systems… then cheaper and better ones come to the fore.

    It’s happening now ! It’s here. Electric vehicles are poised to take over.

    Biodeisel seems an oddity at best.


  8. barnaby January 2, 2008 at 6:51 pm

    Biodiesel is definitely not the answer. as much as it pains most people, personal automobiles will never be the answer. the interconnectivity between town centers and efficient methods of commuting while trying to avoid the necessity of commuting are far more important that creating a car that doesn’t kill us as fast.

  9. gwen January 2, 2008 at 3:22 pm

    I think the point was that they converted waste into fuel– not that biodiesel is the answer to all our woes. This is much better than letting those waste products go unused. I don’t think electric at this point is the complete answer. We need to make the changes that we are currently able to make and look to an clean electric future.

  10. Meredith January 2, 2008 at 2:52 pm

    Are you kidding? Biodiesel, which turns WASTE into fuel, is perfectly viable as an ALTERNATIVE. Does anyone have illusions that this will become the mainstay of automobile technology? The biggest problem is that it still emits carbon dioxide…just like your precious electric cars.

    Electric cars are only as clean as your grid, and that ain’t that clean. But I guess maybe you aren’t in Texas.

  11. Christopher P. January 2, 2008 at 2:46 pm

    Biodiesel is not “the answer” — BUT it is a part of an overall transition strategy. To get from “here” to “there”, so to speak, with technological changes, we also have to include time, human energy and cost of capital diversion. Technology isn’t just the nuts and bolts, its the socio-economic system. So-called “industrial revolutions” are decades and generations in the making. The same amount of kilocalories have to be expended in transportation to accommode the world population. While we are managing the transition to mid-scale electrical generation, power-grid expansion, and transportation system upgrade, and simultaneously working through the coal natural gas, and nuclear conundrums (where is the electricity coming from and how will it be distributed?), we have to be cleaning up and decommissioning the petroleum-based system we already have in place, while it is in on-going use. THAT is where biodiesel has a niche purpose. We can’t sit around starving, twiddling our thumbs or navel-gazing while the electric alternative is being developed.

    On the other hand, the Willy Wonkamobile is another “meet cute” attention-grabber on which “Inhabitat” editors seem to perpetually fixate. Your point about repurposing cacao/chocolate “waste” for LOCAL purposes is spot-on. Driving to Timbuktu and back, to prove we can commute to London riding on our Godiva Chocolates pony (and pay the congestion impact fees), in the name of “carbon offsets” (see the expedition’s webpage) is whimsical at best. What the Inhabitat editors failed to focus on was the “repurposing” concept of the expedition. How many zany projects by well-meaning First-Worlders need to be “offset” in order to transform the economy of Mali through carbon neutral practices? How to avoid the grand Ponzi scheme of “trickle down economics” that carbon-offsets are apparently becoming?

  12. Asa January 2, 2008 at 2:24 pm

    TO reply to the comment above:

    Electricity is not IT, at least not today anyways. The technology is not thier yet in terms of infastructure and so forth. Look over a century we have been JUNKIES hooked on oil. Kickin such a habit and pradigm shift is not happening over night. We need an immediate short term solution of somesort

    the fact that they can derive MORE biodiesel from some waste other then veggie oils is great! If they can somehow now squezze ethanol or Bio Diesel out of spent coffee grounds we can cover even more of the gap.

    This type of tech can help fill the void between this age (gas, steel) and the next(electricity, Carbon Fiber). This is putting the glass half full not half empty. This is good news!

  13. Richie January 2, 2008 at 10:55 am

    Why give props to an out and out publicity stunt ?

    Bio-Deisel has never been the answer. When correctly cost accounted for… inclusive of the costs of cultivation, transportation and processing of the bio-mass ‘fuel’ ingredients… it’s highly ‘expensive’. Too much acreage is required for Bio-desiel as well.

    Why can’t people get it that Electric cars and trucks are IT ?

    I seem to recall that ‘inhabitat’ ran an article recently about an Electric Bus being tested somewhere. Well, if the drive trains of Electric Buses can work, Electric Trucks are pretty similar in that regard.

    The recent breakthrough with the new product ‘NanoSolar’, indicates that these ‘NanoSolar’ panels produce electricity at an identical cost to coal. This is a serious breakthrough. Check: (2nd article down)

    Bio-Deisel might have a very minor place in the scheme of things, but Electric cars and trucks are the answer.

    And why can’t the chocolate manufacturers repurpose their ‘waste’ within their own production systems ? What is chocolate but cocoa butter, cocoa powder, sweetener, milk and flavorings ? Where’s the waste there ? What waste ?


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