Cocoa, Carbon Capture, & Biochar | #PodSaveChocolate

Cocoa, Carbon Capture, & Biochar | #PodSaveChocolate

Episode 47 of #PodSaveChocolate features a discussion of carbon capture, sequestration, biochar, and upcycling in the cocoa sector.

When and Where to Watch

This episode airs live, starting at 10:00 AM PDT/MST (11:00 MDT, 12:00 CDT, 13:00 EDT), on Friday, May 31st, 2024.

You can click any of the links below to watch the episode LIVE or the archived episode. The archive on YouTube will include the comments from LinkedIn and FB in the live chat replay.
Cocoa & Carbon Capture | #PodSaveChocolate
Episode 47 OverviewThe inspiration for this episode was a story that appeared in both Confectionery News and Food Navigator (by the same author – both are pu…

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Link to watch and comment on LinkedIn.
Link to watch and comment on TheChocolateLife page on Facebook.

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Episode 47 Overview

The inspiration for this episode was the following news announcement:

How scientists created a chocolate bar out of thin air
It sounds like science fiction, but one biotech start-up has begun to transform industrial emissions into confectionery ingredients such as cocoa butter. Here’s how

As with most articles that appear in CN, there are no links to primary sources – in this case, most probably a press release from Circe Bioscience. This same article appeared in the sister publication Food Navigator. This is a DuckDuckGo search on “Circe Bioscience” filtered to show only news. You can use this link to find stories related to this one.

Clarification: Circe Bioscience did not invent this technology. It is commercializing tech licensed from a Harvard lab.

Stories like the one above excite, infuriate, and depress me at the same time.

Stories like this excite me because they mention some potentially very interesting technology.

Stories like this infuriate me because of how loose they are in their use of language. The standards of identity for cacao products in CFR 21.163 are pretty clear about what can, and cannot, be in chocolate for it to be labeled as chocolate. So, for the editors at CN to use terms like “chocolate” and “cocoa butter” so cavalierly makes me angry. As professionals in this industry, they should know better.

Stories like this depress me because I am constantly asking myself, “Why cocoa? Why chocolate?” It is on this last point that I am going to focus much of my attention during this episode.

Carbon Capture Primer

There are two different aspects of carbon capture we are going to consider in this episode: capturing atmospheric carbon (carbon dioxide, CO2) and then storing or sequestering it so that it does not easily or quickly (or ever) return to the environment.

Because humans have widely deforested the planet along with other practices that have increased CO2 and other greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere, many carbon capture technologies have been developed, including adsorption, membrane separation, and chemical looping.

Once captured, the CO2 must either be stored somewhere or used. Storage methods include compressing the CO2 and pumping it into underground caverns and rock formations. CO2 can also be used as a feedstock for industrial processes in the manufacture of graphene, and, as the article mentions, triglycerides (fats).

Capturing atmospheric CO2 and sequestering it is something that plants do, naturally. Leaves remove CO2 from the atmosphere and the tree converts the CO2, incorporating it into the mass of the plant – wood is one good example. The CO2 will remain unavailable to the environment until the plant dies and starts to decompose or burns.

In cocoa, flushing leaves are more efficient at capturing atmospheric CO2 for use. What this means is that pruning schedules affect the ability of the tree to remove CO2 from the air.
Carbon capture and storage - Wikipedia
Carbon sequestration - Wikipedia

It is possible to burn plant matter to produce charcoal under controlled conditions – pyrolisis – to produce what is called biochar. (The gases produced during this process, sometimes referred to as producer gas, can be captured, filtered, compressed, and used to produce electricity).

Biochar has broad applications in agriculture as a soil amendment. In addition to directly sequestering carbon in the soil, biochar can improve soil health as well as remediate cadmium-rich soils as the cadmium will selectively be absorbed by the biochar rather than through the root system of the tree.

The feedstock used and the size of the granules both affect the efficacy of the biochar.

More Biochar Production Resources

Large-Scale Biochar/Gasifier

ARB | Home

Community-Scale Biochar/Gasifier

West Biofuels offers a community-scale modular biomass gasification combined heat and power (CHP) system designed to convert biomass residues to renewable electricity and heat. West Biofuels has aggregated and refined proven commercial technologies to create a robust and scalable configuration that can meet energy needs ranging from 0.5MW and above.

Farm-Scale Biochar Production

Choosing a biochar reactor to meet your needs – Biochar for Sustainable Soils

Home Gardening

Discover the benefits of Biochar for your business or garden. ✓ 100% Organic ✓ Peat-Free ✓ Fast Delivery ✓ Scientifically Proven

Carbon Gold is located in the UK.


If you have questions, you can ask them live during the episode or, if you are a ChocolateLife member, you can ask them in the Comments below at any time.

#biochar #carboncapture #co2
#cocoa #cacao #cacau
#chocolate #chocolat #craftchocolate
#PodSaveChocolate #PodSaveChoc
#LaVidaCocoa #TheChocolateLife

Future Episodes

The guest for the Friday, June 7th episode of PodSaveChocolate will be Joan Coukos, Founder of Chocolat Moderne, located in NYC. There will also be a tasting experience in this episode!

#PodSaveChocolate and #TheChocolateLifeLIVE Archives

To read an archived post and find the links to watch archived episodes, click on one of the bookmark cards, below.

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News, views, and conversations on topics in cocoa and chocolate streamed live to YouTube, LinkedIn, and Facebook. #PodSaveChocolate!
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News, views, and conversations on topics in cocoa and chocolate streamed live to YouTube, LinkedIn, and Facebook.

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