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


mevans / E+ / Getty Images

The federal agency that manages the Great Barrier Reef issued an unprecedented statement that broke ranks with Australia's conservative government and called for urgent action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, according to the Guardian.

Read More Show Less

A powerful earthquake struck near Athens, Greece and shook the capital city for 15 seconds on Friday, causing people to run into the streets to escape the threat of falling buildings, NBC News reported.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Golde Wallingford submitted this photo of "Pure Joy" to EcoWatch's first photo contest. Golde Wallingford

EcoWatch is pleased to announce our third photo contest!

Read More Show Less
U.S. government scientists concluded in a new report that last month was the hottest June on record. Angelo Juan Ramos / Flickr

By Jessica Corbett

As meteorologists warned Thursday that temperatures above 100°F are expected to impact two-thirds of the country this weekend, U.S. government scientists revealed that last month was the hottest June ever recorded — bolstering calls for radical global action on the climate emergency.

Read More Show Less
Rod Waddington / CC BY-SA 2.0

By John R. Platt

For years now conservationists have warned that many of Madagascar's iconic lemur species face the risk of extinction due to rampant deforestation, the illegal pet trade and the emerging market for the primates' meat.

Yes, people eat lemurs, and the reasons they do aren't exactly what we might expect.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Pixnio

By Rachael Link, MS, RD

Many types of flour are commonly available on the shelves of your local supermarket.

Read More Show Less
A visitor views a digital representation of the human genome at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. Mario Tama / Getty Images

Genetics are significantly more responsible for driving autism spectrum disorders than maternal factors or environmental factors such as vaccines and chemicals, according to a massive new study involving more than 2 million people from five different countries.

Read More Show Less
Pixabay

By Emilie Karrick Surrusco

Across the globe, extreme weather is becoming the new normal.

Read More Show Less