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Thursday, December 13, 2007

Now THIS Is a Trip I'd Like to Take

Chocolate-powered truck heads for Timbuktu

By Richard Savill

Two British adventurers are preparing to set off on an expedition to west Africa in a lorry powered by biodiesel made from waste chocolate.

Andrew Pag, 34, from Croydon, south London, and John Grimshaw, 39, from Poole, Dorset, will drive more than 4,500 miles across the Sahara to Timbuktu, in Mali, to raise awareness of green fuels.

Their lorry, called "the Bio-truck", runs on a fuel created by a Lancashire-based producer, Ecotec, which has developed a process to turn chocolate misshapes into biodiesel.

Most of the chocolate would otherwise end up in landfill.

Mr Pag, an engineer, and Mr Grimshaw, an electrician, are due to leave late tonight from Poole on a cross-channel ferry.

Their Ford Iveco Cargo lorry will carry two 4x4 land cruisers, which will be used for the last 150 miles of the journey because of the state of the road. All three vehicles will run on bio-diesel.

The Britons will drive through France and Spain and then catch another ferry to Morocco before crossing the desert to Timbuktu.

The journey is expected to take about three weeks.

Mr Pag said: "We have chosen Timbuktu as a destination partly because it is the back of beyond, so if we can make it there with bio-fuel there is no reason why motorists cannot use it on the school run or on their commute to work."

Timbuktu was also picked because it is being "eaten away" by the encroaching desert and is at the "sharp end" of climate change, Mr Pag added.

Mr Pag, who has been to Africa several times, said: "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's carbon neutral. What we have actually done is carbon negative."

The pair are taking 2,000 litres of bio-diesel made from 4,000kg of chocolate misshapes, the equivalent of 80,000 chocolate bars, to fuel their adventure.

But they will not be able to dip into their tank if they feel hungry as the biodiesel does not look or smell like chocolate.

The fuel is made from cocoa butter extracted from the waste chocolate.

The environmental benefits of biofuels is subject to increasing debate, as critics argue that producing biofuels wastes land and water and encourages the destruction of rain forests.

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