Wednesday, November 07, 2007

I never even thought about it - Waste Cacao as BioFuel

I guess I never even thought about it, but the Chocolate Industry creates a lot of food waste every year, that mostly goes into landfills, though I hope I'm wrong, but why not convert this waste into something that can be used. That is exactly what one company is doing in England. North-western English company Ecotech is taking waste from the chocolate manufacturing process and turning it into ethanol, which can be then combined with vegetable oil to make BioFuel (see here for the full article). This BioFuel can be used in replacement of gasoline to power vehicles (though don't try this at home, you'll need to convert your System first to accept this alternate fuel source). The resulting exhaust, and your car, will smell more like vegetable oil than chocolate, unfortunately, but it's a great idea.

Doing a little digging, I came up with some very rough numbers. It requires about 300-600 cacao seeds (from 10 cacao pods) to produce 1 kilogram of cocoa paste. Couple that with a consumption of more than 3.1 million metric tonnes of cocoa (so 3.1 billion kilograms) worldwide per year (figure as of year 2000). That's an awful lot of food waste produced each year, and something that won't go away soon, as that amount of cocoa produces over 11 billion dollars (again year 2000 figures) in export revenue worldwide. Makes you think when you're enjoying your daily chocolate.

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