The Holy Grail of Renewable Energy?

Nopalimex

7. Affordable and Clean Energy 9. Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure 11. Sustainable Cities and Communities 12. Responsible Consumption and Production 13. Climate Action

Overview

A biodigester uses biomass made from the nopal cactus to create methane gas, which can then be used to generate electricity. Through this technology, they provide an alternative to fossil fuels, while also reducing costs.

Authors

Giancarlos Hernandez

Giancarlos Hernandez

Jean-Christophe Hesteau

Jean-Christophe Hesteau

Roberto Jimenez

Roberto Jimenez

School

EGADE Business School Tecnologico de Monterrey

EGADE Business School Tecnologico de Monterrey

Professor

Ezequiel Reficco

Ezequiel Reficco

Innovation

The founder, Rogelio Sosa, has a simple explanation for the technology that they developed: “ The biodigester is the replica of a cow's belly, because when a cow is farting, it's in fact methane gas”.

Using the nopal cactus to create biofuel is kinder to the environment since the plantations absorb 70 tons of CO2 per hectare per year. This means the process can be described as carbon neutral, because when this biogas is used as heat energy or electricity it contains 71% methane and 29% CO2. This 29% of CO2 is sent through pipes to the plantation of nopal cactus to absorb it. When biogas is used for vehicular use, the methane content is 97% and a residue of less than 2% of CO2.

The Holy Grail of Renewable Energy?

Inspiration

One phrase according to Miguel Angel Ake, Technical Director of Nopalimex, to explain the company's inspiration: “As Albert Einstein already said, 'The [definition of] madness is to keep on doing the same expecting different results'."

Overall impact

100 cubic meters of biogas per ton can provide electric energy for 320 houses in the municipality or provide the street lighting all over Zitacuaro.

Business benefit

- 40% costs reduction (gas mainly)

- Better economic conditions for "El Manjar del Campo" employees

- Job creation around this initiative

Social and environmental benefit

- Green industry generation through avoiding CO2 production

- Avoidance of gasoline usage

- Exploration of alternatives to biomass usage

- Promotes circular economy

- Easily replicable

Interview

Miguel Angel Ake Madera, The nopal cactus king

Miguel Angel Ake Madera, The nopal cactus king

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Nopalimex

Nopalimex

Zitácuaro, Michoacán, MX

Business Website: www.nopalimexgasyenergia.com

Year Founded: 2007

Number of Employees: 51 to 200

Nopalimex is the only factory globally that generates energy from the nopal cactus. Everything started in 2007 when Rogelio Sosa, founder of Nopalimex, was looking for options to lower production costs at its factory "El Manjar del Campo", which produces tortillas made of nopal, corn and dehydrated totopos.