From the archive, originally posted by: [ spectre ]

Chocolate fuelled BioTruck makes it to Timbuktu
on the worlds first Carbon Negative Expedition

“Adventures Andy Pag (34) and John Grimshaw (39) have just returned
from the 8500km drive from the UK to Timbuktu using Biodiesel made
from waste chocolate.

The petrolheads from London and Dorset delivered a biodiesel
processing unit to MFC, a local charity. Independent analysts Carbon
Aided estimate that the net effect of the expedition will actually
save 15 tonnes of carbon emissions making this the first ever Carbon
Negative expedition.

Along the way the boys had to battle with sand storms, corrupt customs
officers and narrowly escaped a shoot out with Al-Qaeda.

Their journey wasn’t made easier by their choice of vehicles, all
rescued from scrap yards. “We are always being told that to be green
you have to buy the latest gadget”, explains Grimshaw, “but I don’t
think we should be so quick to throw things away. There’s still plenty
of life in these old trucks”

As a result the team had to effect daily roadside repairs, from broken
headlights, losing second gear, rusty body panels falling off, frozen
fuel, rear wheel blow outs, fuel leaks, oil leaks, air leaks, steering
fluid leaks, radiator leaks… not to mention the spine and eardrum
damage from the 4 week journey in a 1989 Ford Iveco Cargo.

“We’re not environmentalists at all,” Pag points out “We just wanted
to do a trip that wouldn’t have a detrimental effect on the
environment, and the more we learnt about Biodiesel the more we
thought that’s how we can do it”.

The pair successfully arrived in Timbuktu on Boxing Day and next year
Pag plans to fly a paramotor to China using carbon neutral fuel made
from landfill waste. Pag says “First step, I need to learn to fly.”


Biodiesel from Chocolate

“In order to create biodiesel that has as the greenest possible
credentials Ecotec have developed a number of techniques which include
making diesel from chocolate!

Firstly they use recycled cooking oil as the basis for the biodiesel,
which has been grown and already used for food, so it is not impacting
on the price and supply of food crops. Using recycled oil also means
the oil is produced as part of a sustainable carbon cycle of crop
farming on established farm land, not plantations that may have caused

The used cooking oil and all the raw materials for producing the fuel
are collected in trucks that run on biodiesel themselves so the
transportation has a minimal carbon footprint.

Ethanol or Methanol are crucial ingredients in making biodiesel, and
are used in large quantities (20-30% of the total volume).

Traditionally the ethanol is commercially sourced and has been made
from petrochemicals, however Ecotec are have developed a process for
converting waste chocolate from a nearby factory into bio-ethanol on
an industrial scale. Previously this waste product was thrown away in
landfill sites but now the bio-ethanol can be used to make fuel for
petrol cars and in the production of Biodiesel.

There is still some energy required for the oil and the ethanol to
react, this is traditionally provided by electricity coming from the
National Grid. Unfortunately generating electricity with a small
diesel generator is less efficient than tapping into the National Grid
in carbon terms.

The final ingredient in the process is Caustic Soda. This acts as a
catalyst and although it’s not consumed in the reaction it can’t be
recovered. Caustic Soda is commercially produced and there is no
alternative to this, but it is used in relatively small quantities.”


Andy Pag
andy [at] biotruck [dot] co [dot] uk

Andy Pag is the BioTruck expedition organiser, with over 12 years
experience in running vehicle based expeditions in Africa and around
the world. He is a filmmaker and an award winning journalist.



Ecotec are one of the UK ‘s leading biodiesel producers. As well as
researching new ways to produce environmentally friendly fuels they
also manufacture biodiesel produc tion kits for home users.
Contact Andy Hodgson, Marketing Director, 07969 636949

CarbonAided assists entities to identify and reduce their carbon
footprints.  They also help to develop projects that save greenhouse
gas emissions and supports further projects with the sale of carbon

The Harris Pye Group are one of the World’s leading privately owned
Offshore Repair and Refurbishment Companies and are also committed to
protecting our environment.  We are pleased to be associated with the
Biotruck Team and wish them success and speed on their arrival at
Timbuktu .


MFC (The Mali Folke Center ) is an established Malian charity working
with ChristianAid to develop enterprise through environmental
projects, which include developing biofuels.
Contact Ibrahim Togola, MFC Director, +223 220 0617

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