The Nopalimex is a biodigester powered by a cactus (nopal) widely found in Mexico.
Nopalimex is a biodigester developed by Miguel Aké entirely powered by nopal, a cactus. The plant benefits from economies of scale and low transport cost, as the crop is grown around the biodigester plant. The biogas produced is used in the factory for making corn and cactus chips, as well as in a gen-set for electricity. Some is cleaned of carbon dioxide and provided as bio-methane, which can be used in modified vehicles.
Nopalimex is the sole distributor in Mexico. This firm generates gas and electricity using nopal biomass.
Investment costs are 2.17 million USD (40 million pesos)Data from 2016
Each liter of nopal biogas sells for 12 pesos (0.61 USD)Converted September 2019
G2E Biomass Gasification Plant for large-scale biogas plant in Mexico
Goal 7: Affordable and clean energy
Micro-enterprises, industries, public services in Mexico that need electricity or biofuel
Plants are designed and custom-built individually. Nopal plantation is liquefied by a special machine. The resulting pulp is mixed in large tanks with water at 38 degrees C which is the required temperature to break down nopal and release methane. Further treatment with sulphuric acid extracts carbon dioxide, giving the plant a 96% concentration of methane at a production rate of eight tons a day.
Patented in Mexico by Instituto Mexicano de la Propiedad Industrial (IMPI)
Users can obtain the product directly from Nopalimex
Two plants to date in the town of Zitacuaro, in central Michoacan state, the first to aliment the company ‘El Manjar del Campo’ that produces tortillas, the second used to fuel the town’s vehicle fleet.
The form of energy that is created by this system
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The size of this system
The system includes a well-insulated above-ground container. The biogas digester processes prickly pears (from the cactus) into biomethane. The pears are ground up into a soup, mixed with manure and fermented in a digester. The biogas generated is then cooled to dewater it.
May be provided by the manufacturer
To convert nopal leaves into a source of usable energy.
Research was conducted by scientists in Oxford University on the prickly pear cacti and they found that the plant can help produce more food in drought-stricken areas. Since the cacti absorbs high quantities of water, after digestion biogas is made, liquid and solid fertilizer will be left over. This in turn is used to better cultivate crops in areas that could not otherwise support them.
There are some dangers associated with biogas, including fire hazard, explosion, gas leaks, and negative pressure.
Fernandez J. L. A., 2015, Producción de biogás con nopal, IIE.
Aké, M., 2017, Biogás con nopal para vehículos en sustitución de combustibles fósiles, México
The biodigestor was developed with expert advice from the National Polytechnic Institute of Mexico, the Autonomous University of Chapingo and the Electric Power Research Institute. Expert advisors have indicated that the good economics depend on having a good quality feed material easily accessible – in this case nopal (prickly pear).
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