Photo credit: ELQUIGLOBALENERGY
Biogas production from the spineless prickly pear (Opuntia ficus-indica var. inermis)
A new “Wealth from Waste” project
This will bring rural prosperity and generate employment and carbon sequestration.
Opuntia and Agave for biogas/biofuel
By Dr.A.Jagadeesh (Nellore, AP, India)
Opuntia and Agave are care-free growth, regenerative CAM-plants.
Agave americana, the Sisal Agave is a multiple use plant which has 10% fermentable sugars and it is rich in cellulose. The fibres are used in rope production and for weaving clothes in The Philippines under the trade name DIP-DRY.
In Brazil, a paper factory runs on sisal as input. A steroid, called HECOGENIN is extracted from this plant’s leaves. Since on putrification it produces methane gas, it can be cut and used as input for biogas production. In Kenya and Lesotho, dried pieces of Agave are mixed with concrete since the fibres act as binding material.
The cultivation of the spineless prickly pear or nopal (Opuntia ficus-indica, a type of cactus), is very important in Mexico and Brazil. According to Rodrigo Morales, a Chilean engineer, this cactus “allows you to generate inexhaustible clean energy.”
Wayland Morales, Head of ElquiGlobal Energy, argues that an acre of cactus produces 43.200 m3 of biogas or the equivalent in energy terms to 25,000 liters of biodiesel. Jatropha curcas would produce only 3,000 liters of biodiesel on the same surface. Another of the peculiarities of this nopal cactus is the possibility to produce biogas with the same composition as natural gas, but its production does not require machinery or devices of high complexity. Unlike natural gas, it contains primarily methane (75%), carbon dioxide (24%) and other minor gases (1%), “so it has advantages from the technical point of view since it has the same capacity heat but is cleaner”, he says, and as sum datum its calorific value is 7,000 kcal/m3.
The fruits of Opuntia ficus-indica are edible and highly nutritious. Their juice is exported by Israel.
Nowadays, I am experimenting with the pads of this cactus for malaria control.
Developing countries like ours, which have millions of hectares of wasteland, can transform their rural economy by investing in Agave and Opuntia plantations on a massive scale.
As one economist put it: IT IS NOT THE LACK OF RESOURCES BUT RESOURCEFULNESS THAT EXPLAINS WHY PEOPLE PERISH IN THE MIDST OF PLENTY.