Mexican scientists convert prickly pear cactus to biogas

Scientists in Mexico have developed a method to convert the prickly pear cactus into biogas, AFP reports. The distinctive, bright green cactus is farmed on a massive scale in Mexico, for use in drinks, medicines and shampoo.

In May 2017, a pilot project was launched at Milpa Alta’s cactus market, which produces up to 200,000 tons a year of prickly pear cactus. Up to 10 tons of this cactus ends up as waste on the market floor each day.

Mexican green energy start up Suema decided to develop a biogas generator to turn the waste into energy. According to the AFP report, the generator will ultimately be able to produce three to five tons of waste a day, in turn producing 170m3 (45,000 gallons) of biogas and more than a tone of compost.

This will be enough to produce 175 kilowatt hours of electricity, enough to power 9,600 low-energy light bulbs.

The $840,000 project has been funded by the Mexican government. In 2015, Mexico vowed to reduce its emissions by 2050. In 2016, green energy made up 15.4% of the country’s energy mix, although only 0.1% of this came from biogas. 

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