Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Coco-Energy: Chocolate bars and Lightbulbs Revisited

"Time to overcome your shyness and break out from that shell!" This is a story that would make Willy Wonka and his staff of Oompa-Loompas from "Charlie in the Chocolate Factory" very, very interested ($$$$). US engineers tested a novel way of generating electricity using coal tempered with cocoa-bean shells. The technology still awaits approval from the State of New Hampshire, but if all goes well, factories could begin using these useless cocoa-bean shells to power its operations. It is argued that this would have a significant economic impact on the price of cocoa as demand would increase for the mighty bean (there's no way you can get the shell without harvesting the bean!). The environmental benefits from such technology would join the ranks with sugar-cane crops (ethanol), rapeseeds (VPO) and palm trees (biodiesel). The move is to be welcomed. We could witness a sharp increase in backward integration in cocoa-dependent industries (chocolate, some alcohol distilleries). The 21st century has surely brought us some electrifying surprises: indeed, who would ever think that chocolate bars could power lightbulbs?