Prickly pear cacti, or nopal, are commonly used in Mexico for salads, shakes and even tortillas. However, one company has found an innovative way to use the cacti as a source for biofuel.
In 2009, the company Nopalimex started producing biofuel from the 1,000 tonnes of nopal crop biomass that was grown for tortillas. Today, they create enough biofuel to offset their own energy needs and are providing biofuel for local government vehicles.
The process involves fermentation and distillation for the leftover nopal scraps. High sugar levels in nopal, as well as minimal water consumption, make them perfect for this and a nearly zero waste energy source.