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THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 11, 2010
 
It’s the yummiest car out there, because it’s a racing car that runs on chocolate and wine. Pre-2009 it only existed in the wildest fantasies of a posh Willy Wonka, but we can now officially say it exists – And surprisingly, the results are better than anyone expected. In fact, in many ways chocolate and wine may be better fuel for your car than gasoline. But before you wonder why anyone would want to waste putting perfectly good wine and chocolate in their engine, let me clarify that it’s stale wine and cocoa waste – Not to say I can’t digest those either, but they are a lot more cheaper and usually discarded as garbage.
So in what ways is this chocolate car better than what we have now? Well, the car is ‘carbon neutral’ and at least half of it has been created by recycled material and plant waste. Some of its more notable ‘green’ features include: A steering wheel made from carrot fibre, seats made from flax and soya-foam, and vegetable-mix tires. The car also eats away at existing smog. The radiator of the car is coated with a catalyst that breaks down ground ozone.
I hate ‘car-talk’ as much as the next guy but let’s put on our Formula 3 trucker hats and compare the cars in terms of numbers. For starters, chocolate is as efficient with fuel as gas is for a Honda Civic. That is, both use about 35 mpg. Of course, when you take into account that chocolate is biological waste, it has even the Toyota Prius beat in ‘greeness.’ Chocolate cars can also be a lot faster. The creators of the car claim it can reach 60 mph in 2.5 seconds. If you don’t know how fast that it is, consider that a Ferrari Enzo takes a half second more to reach that speed (3.14 seconds). And its top speed is 135 mph but with some tweaking, the creators claim, it can reach up to 180 mph, which is about the same as a Porsche 911.
The car was created by researchers at Warwick University with project leader Dr Kerry Kirwan. It was also built to compete against other Formula 3 cars and will make its debut at the next F3 race on October 17 at the Brands Hatch racing circuit in the UK.
Although a chocolate race-car is reminiscent of a popular Homer Simpson dream, the land of chocolate, there is an ugly side to all the great advantages. The largest problem with the car is mass production. Because the car is largely waste it would depend on biological waste to be produced. However, biological waste is not abundant and once its threshold is met actual biological products may begin to be consumed. This wouldn’t be the first time this potential problem occurred.
There has already been corn-ethanol racecars invented in order to promote ‘green’ racing at NASCAR. However, there was a common concern among environmental scientists that cars that depended on biofuels would create more demand for such biofuel foods (i.e corn and sugarcane). The high demand would actually raise food prices.
Two of the biggest producers of cone and sugarcane include Venezuela and Cuba. Both countries’ leaders, Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro respectively, have written and expressed concern for such agricultural growth for fuel. Of course, the difference with the chocolate-racecar is that it’s plant waste. Cuba and Venezuela also plan to use only waste material but the switch from plant waste to real plants is a thin line. Also, creating inedible plant waste isn’t a viable option as it would take up valuable agricultural space and thus still raise food prices.
Ramón Pichs of the World Economy Research Center (CIEM) explained it best: "What they are considering is a scheme in which most of the biofuels are produced in underdeveloped countries in Asia, Latin America or Africa, to be exported to the industrialized world." Basically, the agricultural burden would be placed on developing countries, as Pichs' estimates that filling a car's tank with biofuel for 2 weeks uses the same amount of grain it would take to feed 26 people for a year.
So it seems like too much chocolate can make others sick.


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