(CNN)With climate change top of the agenda in most countries, more people with sharp ideas than ever before are needed to combat global warming.
One Mexican company has taken that quite literally, harnessing the power of the prickly pear cactus to produce biofuel.Visit CNN.com/sport for more news, features and videos
Described as the “green gold of Mexico,” the nopal plant — already a staple in Mexican diets, medicine and cosmetics — is pureed and mixed with manure by a clean energy company called Nopalimex.The mixture is then left to decompose, a process which produces methane. Read MoreREAD: Fire destroys entire fleet of futuristic bikesREAD: The racing team aiming to clean up one of the world’s most polluted countries
Photos: The power of the prickly pear cactusIn 2015, Nopalimex became the world’s first cactus-powered plant, harnessing the power of the nopal — or prickly pear cactus — to produce biofuel.Hide Caption 1 of 6
Photos: The power of the prickly pear cactusFor years, the nopal has been a staple part of Mexican cuisine, medicine and cosmetics but now another use has been found for this multipurpose plant — powering cars.Hide Caption 2 of 6
Photos: The power of the prickly pear cactusDescribed as the “green gold of Mexico,” it is pureed and mixed with manure to produce methane, which Nopalimex are testing as an alternative to gasoline in local government vehicles.Hide Caption 3 of 6
Photos: The power of the prickly pear cactusUnlike gasoline, the nopal fuel doesn’t harm the atmosphere, producing only water and nopal waste which can be used to irrigate and fertilize crops.Hide Caption 4 of 6
Photos: The power of the prickly pear cactusThe biofuel is valued at just 12 pesos (US $0.65) per liter, around a third cheaper than the cost of regular gasoline.Hide Caption 5 of 6
Photos: The power of the prickly pear cactusCactus-fueled clean air? That’s sure to prickle the fancy of Mexicans everywhere.Hide Caption 6 of 6
Located in Michoacán, central Mexico, Nopalimex uses the methane — around eight tons daily — to fuel a machine called a biodigestor, which powers their corn chip and cactus chip production. But they have also been testing the leftover mixture in local government vehicles in the nearby city of Zitacuaro.In 2015, the company became the world’s first cactus-powered plant with the aim of finding a renewable alternative to fuel, while also creating social and economic benefits for Mexico.As long as the nopals are regularly replanted, the process is almost entirely sustainable, producing only water and nopal waste which can be used to fertilize crops.
Nopalimex say the biogas will cost just 12 pesos (US $0.65) per liter, around a third cheaper than the cost of regular gasoline and estimates the fleet of buses and cars with the modified tanks will reduce their gasoline use by at least 40%.Cactus-fueled clean air? That’s sure to prickle the fancy of Mexicans everywhere.