Quantcast

World's First Cactus Biogas Plant Opens in Mexico

Business

Nopalimex has built the world's first cactus-powered plant in Mexico. The company is utilizing a digester to make biogas from prickly pear cacti. In addition to powering Nopalimex's operations, the digester's 8-ton daily production will fuel the town of  Zitacuaro's vehicle fleet in central Michoacan state, Noticias MVS reported.

"The fruit or prickly pears are pureed, mixed with manure, then left to decompose, producing methane," Climate Home explained. "That gas is used for fuel and burned to generate enough electricity for 300 homes at 50 percent cheaper than grid prices."

In the city's vehicle fleet, the cactus fuel is expected to decrease gasoline use by at least 40 percent, Antonio Soto Sanchez, secretary of Economic Development, told Noticias MVS.

The idea came to Nopalimex's Rogelio Sosa about a decade ago when he was looking for ways to lower the energy bills for his company, which manufactures corn and cactus chips.

Economic Development Secretary Adrian Lopez hailed the project as a great example of the renewable energy projects Mexico should be adopting. Last month, the Latin American nation mandated that renewables supply 35 percent of the country's electricity by 2024.

And, according to Gizmodo, there's huge potential for prickly pear cacti as a biofuel as it could help "fuel our drought-stricken world."

Gizmodo explains:

"What makes prickly pear so interesting as a fuel for making biogas or other forms of biofuel is that it can be grown in places where traditional energy crops can’t. Imagine vast fields of cacti in remote, arid areas of the country, where normal crops can’t grow. It wouldn’t suck up the resources or space needed to feed people, as current bioenergy crops are criticized as doing."

Citing research from a group of Oxford scientists, "growing prickly pear at that scale might actually help produce more food in drought-stricken lands, because converting organic waste into biogas creates its own waste. ... Prickly pear absorb a ton of water, and after digestion happens and the biogas is made, liquid and solid fertilizer will be leftover. That, in turn, could be used to better cultivate crops in areas that normally couldn’t support them."

One owner of a prickly pear biogas facility in Chile, Rodrigo Wayland Morales, told Renewable Energy World he sees vast potential for the crop. He has cactus biogas projects in various stages of completion in Mexico, India, Chile, Brazil, Ecuador and Colombia.

He believes the geography of his native Chile makes it an ideal location for the crop. “Chile could desalinate sea water and grow the cactus in the desert,” Morales said.  “I imagine the Atacama Desert with cactus, producing the energy that our country needs.”

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Neil Young Takes His Anti-Monsanto Message on the Road

Want to Get Off the Grid and Live in Harmony With Nature? Build an Earthship

This Solar Road Will Provide Power to 5 Million People

Elon Musk: ‘You Can Easily Power All of China With Solar’

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Natural Resources Defense Council

By Emily Deanne

Shower shoes? Check. Extra-long sheets? Yep. Energy efficiency checklist? No worries — we've got you covered there. If you're one of the nation's 12.1 million full-time undergraduate college students, you no doubt have a lot to keep in mind as you head off to school. If you're reading this, climate change is probably one of them, and with one-third of students choosing to live on campus, dorm life can have a big impact on the health of our planet. In fact, the annual energy use of one typical dormitory room can generate as much greenhouse gas pollution as the tailpipe emissions of a car driven more than 156,000 miles.

Read More Show Less
Kokia drynarioides, commonly known as Hawaiian tree cotton, is a critically endangered species of flowering plant that is endemic to the Big Island of Hawaii. David Eickhoff / Wikipedia

By Lorraine Chow

Kokia drynarioides is a small but significant flowering tree endemic to Hawaii's dry forests. Native Hawaiians used its large, scarlet flowers to make lei. Its sap was used as dye for ropes and nets. Its bark was used medicinally to treat thrush.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Frederick Bass / Getty Images

States that invest heavily in renewable energy will generate billions of dollars in health benefits in the next decade instead of spending billions to take care of people getting sick from air pollution caused by burning fossil fuels, according to a new study from MIT and reported on by The Verge.

Read More Show Less
Aerial view of lava flows from the eruption of volcano Kilauea on Hawaii, May 2018. Frizi / iStock / Getty Images

Hawaii's Kilauea volcano could be gearing up for an eruption after a pond of water was discovered inside its summit crater for the first time in recorded history, according to the AP.

Read More Show Less
A couple works in their organic garden. kupicoo / E+ / Getty Images

By Kristin Ohlson

From where I stand inside the South Dakota cornfield I was visiting with entomologist and former USDA scientist Jonathan Lundgren, all the human-inflicted traumas to Earth seem far away. It isn't just that the corn is as high as an elephant's eye — are people singing that song again? — but that the field burgeons and buzzes and chirps with all sorts of other life, too.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
A competitor in action during the Drambuie World Ice Golf Championships in Uummannaq, Greenland on April 9, 2001. Michael Steele / Allsport / Getty Images

Greenland is open for business, but it's not for sale, Greenland's foreign minister Ane Lone Bagger told Reuters after hearing that President Donald Trump asked his advisers about the feasibility of buying the world's largest island.

Read More Show Less
AFP / Getty Images / S. Platt

Humanity faced its hottest month in at least 140 years in July, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said on Thursday. The finding confirms similar analysis provided by its EU counterparts.

Read More Show Less
Newly established oil palm plantation in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia. Rhett A. Butler / Mongabay

By Hans Nicholas Jong

Indonesia's president has made permanent a temporary moratorium on forest-clearing permits for plantations and logging.

It's a policy the government says has proven effective in curtailing deforestation, but whose apparent gains have been criticized by environmental activists as mere "propaganda."

Read More Show Less