Conference PaperPDF Available

Bioethanol Production from Prickly Pear (Opuntia ficus-indica (L) Mill.) Cladodes

F. Sánchez
, M.D. Curt
, J. Fernández
, J.M. Agüera
, M. Uceda
, G. Zaragoza
Dpt. Producción Vegetal: Botánica y Protección Vegetal. Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (UPM). 28040 Madrid (Spain)
Telephone nº: +34915492692. Fax nº: +34915498482. E-mail address:
Fundación CAJAMAR. Paseo de Almería 25, 2ª planta. (04001). Almería (Spain)
Telephone nº: +34950210189. Fax nº: +34950621660. E-mail address:
ABSTRACT: The aim of the work is to find out the alcoholigenous potential of non-cellulosic carbohydrates from
prickly pear cladodes by fermentation with the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae (commercial strains). Different
hydrolysis pretreatments and process conditions are carried out in order to determine the best procedure for a
maximum ethanol concentration in the fermenting media.
Keywords: bioethanol, fermentation, hydrolysis, sugar crops.
Prickly pear cactus is a crop cultivated mainly for its
fruits (pears) that are sold fresh or transformed in jellies,
juices and other products. Young stems (cladodes) are
also sold as vegetables in some world regions (mainly in
Mexico). Older cladodes, particularly those from
varieties without or with few or small thorns, can also be
used as fodder, and there are several other minor uses of
its fruits and cladodes, including medicinal and cosmetic
ones [1], [2].
Prickly pear is a crop that can be cultivated in arid
environments due to its CAM metabolism, high water
retention capability, and other cactaceae family
adaptative strategies. Cladode yields depend very much
on crop management as it is not frequently that crop
operations such as fertilizations or weedings are done
when cladodes (instead of pears) are the harvestable
product. As a few examples, values over 100 tn/(ha.year)
of fresh cladode can be considered for rainfed lands with
Opuntia ssp. plants with five years or more in central
Mexico [3]. In Brasil, Cordeiro et al [4] reported values
een 22 and 50tn /(ha.year) for two different varieties
of O. ficus-indica in rainfed semiarid zones with an
adequate land management. Finally, yields of 3 9 and
15 22.5 tn/(ha.year) of dry matter have been reported
for O. ficus-indica cultivated in deep and sandy soils in
areas with 200 and 400 mm of rain, respectively, and an
adequate land management [5].
Due to its high content of carbohydrates (about 30%
d.m.b, not including the holocelullosic fraction) and low
content of lignin (<4%, d.m.b. [6]) cladodes can be
considered as an interesting bioethanol feedstock in arid
and semiarid regions.
Initially, ethanol production from prickly pear can
be consider as a high valuable by-product of crops mainly
destined to food production, or as the main product in
crops specifically destined to fuel production
(considering prickly pear as a so-called energy crop).
First option can be considered in regions where: A
significant demand of pears (or young cladodes) exists,
large areas of land are cultivated with this plant, and the
crop can be considered as a profitable one. Here, pruning
residues and those fruits that do not fit the market
standards (because of being: damage, too or not enough
mature, etc) can be used to produce ethanol. On the other
hand, there are several other regions where prickly pear is
cultivated but it is not, actually, a profitable crop. The
main reason for this is the small amount of demand of the
cts and/or the high cost of harvesting them (as this,
in the case of fruits, must be done manually, nowadays).
In these regions (and in those where prickly pear could be
cultivated but it is not, for the same mentioned reasons)
crops could be grown specifically for fuel production. If
cladodes,–besides fruits-, can be processed to obtain
ethanol, as previously reported [7], mechanization of the
harvest will lead to reduce its costs, and, as demand for
feedstock would be steady, the crop could be profitable in
this areas.
A selection of average prickly pear mature cladodes
from a spineless ecotype was picked up in September of
2008 from an experimental plot located in Almeria
(Spain). (Fig.1)
Figure 1: Picking up cladodes at the experimental plot
17th European Biomass Conference and Exhibition, 29 June - 3 July 2009, Hamburg, Germany
Cladodes were then grinded, mixed, and frozen at
-18ºC in sampling bags until they were needed.
Total sugars (excluding those contained in
hemicellulose and cellulose) were determined by Nelson-
Somoghy method (as described in [7]) after hydrolyzing
fresh cladode with hydrochloric acid 1M (30 min).
Two kinds of different fermentative substrates were
prepared from the cladode mix. First of them (S1) was
obtained by hydrolyzing cladodes with boiling
hydrochloric acid 1M for 30 min, following the same
method used for sugar determination. Amounts of about
30 g of fresh cladode were boiled in aproximately 400 ml
of hydrochloric acid. Once filtration has been done, this
method provides us a liquid with almost all cladode sugar
content, but with a low concentration of sugar, because of
the low fresh cladode: acid solution ratio.
The other substrate (S2) was obtained by
hydrolyzing the cladode mix with concentrated sulphuric
acid (96%) in very small amounts (Table II), and in an
autoclave (121ºC, 20 min). Water was previously added
in o
rder to obtain and homogeneous and easily mixable
substrate (0.84 ml for each fresh cladode gram, as
determined in previous experiments). As sterilization of
the substrate has to be done, energy requirements for
hydrolyzation were covered by this process. The final
product is a pulp.
Both substrates were, after this, led to a pH of 3.8
(recommended for the fermentation of this substrate [7])
with KOH 3.61 M. Ammonium sulphate (0.15±0.02 g/l
in S1, and 0.1 g in each trial with S2, what means
0.34±0.04 mg/g fresh cladode ) was also added as a
nitrogen source.
Occasional extractions of substrate were made in
order to study the evolution of dry matter between the
different operations (results are not shown here, however,
these extractions have been considered in volumes,
weights, and other results).
Yeasts (Saccharomyces cerevisiae, commercial
strains) were bought fresh and frozen at -18ºC in their
original solid state. Two days before each fermentation a
portion (of about 2 grams) of yeast was introduced into a
sterile erlenmeyer flask containing: 100 ml of S1 at pH =
3.8 (obtained by leading 100 ml of S1 to a pH = 3.8, what
means a total volume of 137± 13 ml), 5 g of sucrose,
and 0.1 g/l of ammonium sulphate. Yeasts were then
cultivated during 48 hrs at a temperature of 25±1 ºC. An
air compressor supplied air through a gas filter with a 0.2
µm pore membrane in alternate periods of one hour (in
order to prevent foam from reaching the filters). A
magnetic stirring unit kept the substrate mixed at the
minimum speed needed for a complete mix of the
medium. The final product obtained by this process is
what we called “yeast inoculum”, also known by
enologists as “starter”.
Starter was inoculated using a sterile syringe at
±0.02 ml/l in S1, and 60 ml in each trial with S2,
what means 0.21±0.03 ml/g fresh cladode.
Concerning fermentations, two retentions times (4
and 5 days) and two temperatures (25ºC and 30ºC) were
tested. Blank fermentations, with 700 ml of distilled
water (led to pH = 3.8 with citric acid 1M), ammonium
sulphate (0.1 g) and yeast inoculum were also carried out
for each trial condition. Fermentations of S1 at 25ºC and
blank fermentations were carried out in erlenmeyer flasks
with water-repellent cotton-plugs. A magnetic stirring
unit in blank fermentations and an orbital shaker in S1
were use to kept the substrate mixed. Fermentations of S2
and S1 at 30ºC were carried out in a “Minifor Laboratory
Fermentor” (Lambda Instruments).
Samples were taken at the fourth and fifth day of the
process, cooled in a fridge, and frozen at -18ºC until
ethanol determinations were done. Fermented S1 was
then filtered through a 0.45 µm pore membrane.
Fermented S2 was centrifuged (7000 rpm, 10 min) to
separate solid particles and then filtered. Finally, ethanol
concentration was determined using a gas chromatograph
(GC 8000. CE Instruments)
Dry matter contents of S2 trials -once fermentation
had finished- were determined by drying samples at a
temperature of 103 105 ºC until constant weight. Total
carbon and nitrogen contents in these substrates were
determined using a NA 2000 analyzer (Finson
Trial conditions are shown in Table I. Amounts of
fresh cladode and sulphuric acid in fermentations with S2
are shown in Table II.
Table I: Trial conditions
Trial Substrate
time (days)
S2-1a S2 4 30
S2-1b S2 5 30
S2-2a S2 4 25
S2-2b S2 5 25
S2-3a S2 4 25
S2-3b S2 5 25
S2-4a S2 4 30
S2-4b S2 5 30
S1-1a S1 4 30
S1-1b S1 5 30
S1-2a S1 4 25
S1-2b S1 5 25
S1-3a S1 4 25
S1-3b S1 5 25
S1-4a S1 4 30
S1-4b S1 5 30
B1* Water 4 25
B2* Water 5 25
B3** Water 4 25
B4** Water 5 25
B5* Water 4 30
B6* Water 5 30
B7** Water 4 30
B8** Water 5 30
20 ml inoculum added
60 ml inoculum added
17th European Biomass Conference and Exhibition, 29 June - 3 July 2009, Hamburg, Germany
Table II: Amounts of fresh cladode and sulphuric acid
in fermentations with S2
Total amount of sugars in cladode mix from which
S2 is obtained was 32.4±1.8 % (d.m.b.). Dry matter
content in fresh cladode was 14.6±0.4 %.
Total volumes and sugar concentrations in S1 are
shown in Table III.
Table III: Volumes and sugar concentrations in S1
Fresh cladode and fermented products contents in total N
and total C are shown in Table IV.
Table IV: Contents in total C and total N.
Ethanol concentrations in fermented substrates are
shown in Table V.
Table V: Ethanol concentrations
Ethanol (ppm)
Substrate Mean value Standard desv.
S2-1a 8461.5 245.0
S2-1b 8428.7 1057.0
S2-2a 7400.7 654.1
S2-2b 7594.8 1097.7
S2-3a 5765.4 665.9
S2-3b 6283.8 23.9
S2-4a 5778.9 202.6
S2-4b 5628.4 334.7
S1-1a 1011.9 97.6
S1-1b 881.4 53.9
S1-2a 541.0 29.5
S1-2b 84.0 16.3
S1-3a 810.2 85.7
S1-3b 325.0 95.5
S1-4a 566.1 33.3
S1-4b 339.1 53.7
B1* 0.0 0.0
B2* 0.0 0.0
B3** 11.2 2.5
B4** 1.8 3.5
B5* 434.3 52.3
B6* 346.7 27.9
B7** 580.4 86.2
B8** 260.5 14.9
*20 ml inoculum added
** 60 ml inoculum added
Considering S2 dry matter content, the content in
reducing sugars previously referred, and volumes after
fermentation, ethanol yields are those shown in Table
Table VI: Ethanol yields in fermentations of S2
Considering S1 sugar concentrations and volumes
after fermentation, ethanol yields are shown in Table VII
Fresh cladode
initial weight
acid (96%)
added for
added (g)
S2-1 311.9 11.3 0.1
S2-2 277.3 4.7 0.1
S2-3 344.0 5.7 0.1
S2-4 277.4 4.7 0.1
Initial volume
Initial sugar
S1-1 600 4820
S1-2 387 3681
S1-3 383 3681
S1-4 600 3681
(% d.m.b.)
content (%
(% d.m.b.)
S2-2 23.39±0.63
S2-3 23.31±0.58
S2-4 26.41±0.88
sugar (mg)
yield (%)
S2-1a 14752.7 6041.5 41.0
S2-1b 14752.7 6018.1 40.8
S2-2a 11835.9 3700.4 31.3
S2-2b 11835.9 3797.4 32.1
S2-3a 16273.0 4156.9 25.5
S2-3b 16273.0 4530.6 27.8
S2-4a 13123.5 3236.2 24.7
S2-4b 13123.5 3151.9 24.0
17th European Biomass Conference and Exhibition, 29 June - 3 July 2009, Hamburg, Germany
Table VII: Ethanol yields in fermentation of S1
In principle, the used method for sugar determination
gives us the total content of reducing sugars that are not
contained in the structural polysaccharides cellulose and
hemicellulose. This means soluble monosaccharides and
those monosaccharides resulting from sucrose, starch and
mucilage hydrolysis.
According to values reported by Stintzing and Carle
[6], starch content in cladodes oscillates with seasons
between 8.5 and 17.1 % (d.m.b.). Ayadi, et al [8] , found
a total content of starch of 13.09±1.15 % (d.m.b.) in
spineless cladodes, with 6.01±0.88 % (d.m.b.) of soluble
sugars. Sepúlveda et a
l [9], reported that mucilage can
represent between 17.9 and 20.8 % (d.m.b.) of cladode
weight, and Goldstein et al [10] found a total amount
between 9 and 19 % (d.m.b.) of mucilage in cladodes.
An important issue to take into account is that a
significative fraction of reducing sugars from mucilage
hydrolysis is composed by pentoses, and thus, not
fermentable by the yeasts used in these experiments. It is
not easy to determine the carbohydrate composition of
mucilage, as this depends on various factors (including
the way of extraction and purification [11]). According to
Majdoub [12] about a 28 % (weight/weight) of mucilage
could be composed by carbohydrates, and Abraján [11]
found that a fraction up to 75.1 % (moles/moles) of total
sugar in the mucilage of one year old peeled and scalded
cladodes was composed by pentoses.
According to this information we can estimate (even
though in a highly imprecise way) that about 21 % of
mucilage is composed by pentoses, and this could mean
between 1.9 and 4 % of total cladode dry matter.
Considering the average result (32.4 % d.m.b.) for
total reducing sugars in S2, and the above exposed data,
total fermentable sugars could be between 5.9 and 12.3 %
less than total reducing sugars. Finally, this could lead
fermentation yield to 46.7 % (in case of S2-1a), what
would be closer to de 51.1 % theoretical yield.
Despite this fact, interesting ethanol yields have been
reached when sulphuric acid is added in an approximate
proportion of 1 ml for each 30 grams of fresh cladode
(trial S2-1), instead of 0.5 ml for the same amount of
fresh cladode.
A possible reason for low ethanol yields in some of
the fermentations, particularly in those with S1, is the
high concentration of potassium in the media. Volumes
around 150 ml of KOH 3.61M were needed to lead
original S1 to a pH=3.8. This means concentrations of K
over 21000 mg/l. Further investigation concerning this
issue is needed.
Statistical analysis of the data (ANOVA-
Bonferroni´s multiple comparison procedure) show no
significant differences between “a” and “b” fermentation
yields in all S2 trials, nor between S2-4 (“a” and “b”) and
S2-2,3 (“a” and “b”). This means no difference between
retention times and temperatures. Significant differences
between S2-1 and all the other fermentations have been
found, probably due to the different amount of acid used
in the hydrolysis.
Concerning S1, one remarkable issue is that
significant differences between “a” and “b” fermentations
can be seen in S1-2,3,4 fermentation results.
Chromatograms of these “b” fermentations shown peaks
of non-determined compounds with great areas (even
greater than ethanol peaks) appearing before
acetaldehyde (a small amount of acetaldehyde appears in
almost all chromatograms of all done experiments).
Substrate extractions done in fourth day (“a” trials) may
led to an oxygen excess in the medium, or even to a
microbiological contamination, despite the process was
carried out in adequate conditions (laminar flow
chamber, sterile material,…).
Regarding yeasts, commercial strains are easy to find
and inexpensive (so they could lead to a cost reduction of
the industrial process of fermentation), but –probably-
they are not the best option to reach the highest ethanol
yields of these substrates in the present conditions.
Further investigations with selected strains of yeasts must
be done.
Finally, it is interesting to mention that, considering
average cladode yields reported by Le Houerou, 1996 [5],
and the best of S2 fermentation yields, total ethanol
production could represent 984 l/ha (with 200 mm of
rain) and 3116 l/ha (with 400 mm).
Interesting concentrations of ethanol have been
reached in trials with S2, but far below the desired 5%
considered as economically feasible. In general terms,
higher fermentation yields are found in trials with S2, so
there is no reason to carry out S1 hydrolysis, as ethanol
concentration in the fermented media is much lower than
in S2. Finally, fermentation yields must be improved, and
selected strains of yeasts may play an important role in
[1] Sáenz, C. (2000) “Processing technologies: an
alternative for cactus pear (Opuntia spp.) fruits and
cladodes”. Journal of Arid Environments 46: 209–
[2] Sáenz, C et al. Arias, E (Coord). (2006) “Utilización
Agroindustrial del Nopal”. Estudio FAO Producción
y Protección Vegetal nº 162. Rome.
[3] López, J.J., Fuentes, J.M., and Rodriguez, A. (2001)
“Producción y uso de Opuntia como forraje en el
centro-norte de Mexico”. In “El nopal (Opuntia ssp.)
como forraje.”. Estudio FAO Producción y
Protección Vegetal nº169. Rome.
[4] Cordeiro, D., Gonzaga, S. (2001) “Opuntia como
forraje en el oeste semiárido de Brasil”. In “El nopal
Initial sugar
yield (%)
S1-1a 2892.0 774.1 26.8
S1-1b 2892.0 674.3 23.3
S1-2a 1424.5 283.5 19.9
S1-2b 1424.5 44.0 3.1
S1-3a 1409.8 409.1 29.0
S1-3b 1409.8 164.1 11.6
S1-4a 2208.6 419.5 19.0
S1-4b 2208.6 251.3 11.4
17th European Biomass Conference and Exhibition, 29 June - 3 July 2009, Hamburg, Germany
(Opuntia ssp.) como forraje.”. Estudio FAO
Producción y Protección Vegetal nº169. Rome.
[5] Le Houerou, H..(1996) “The role of cacti
(Opuntia.spp.) in erosion control, land reclamation,
rehabilitation and agricultural development in the
Mediterranean Basin” Journal of Arid
Environments. 33(2), 135-139.
[6] Stintzing, F.C., and Carle, R. (2005) “Cactus stems
(Opuntia spp.): A review on their chemistry,
technology, and uses” Molecular Nutrition Food
Research. 49, 175 – 194.
[7] Retamal, N.(1987) “Aprovechamiento
Agroenergético de la Chumbera (Opuntia ficus-
indica (L. Mill.))”. Doctoral Thesis. Universidad
Politécnica de Madrid (Spain).
[8] Ayadi. M.A., Abdelmaksoud, W., Ennouri, M.,
Attia, H.(2009) “Cladodes from Opuntia ficus indica
as a source of dietary fiber: Effect on dough
characteristics and cake making” Industrial Crops
and Products 30, 40–47.
[9] Sepúlveda, E. Sáenz, C., Aliaga, E. Aceituno, C.
(2007) “Extraction and characterization of mucilage
in Opuntia spp.” Journal of Arid Environments 68,
[10] Goldstein, G., Andrade, J.L., Nobel, P. (1991)
“Differences in water relations parameters for the
chlorenchyma and parenchyma of Opuntia ficus
indica under wet Versus dry conditions”. Australian
Journal of Plant Physiology. 18, 95–107. Cit. in
Sepúlveda, E. Sáenz, C., Aliaga, E. Aceituno, C.
“Extraction and characterization of mucilage in
Opuntia spp.” Journal of Arid Environments 68
(2007) 534–545.
[11] Abraján, M.A. (2008) “Efecto del método de
extracción en las características químicas y físicas
del mucílago del nopal (Opuntia ficus-indica) y
estudio de su aplicación como recubrimiento
comestible”. Doctoral Thesis. Universidad
Politécnica de Valencia (Spain).
[12] Majdoub, H., Roudesli, S., Picton, L., Le Cerf, D.,
Muller, G. and Grisell, M. (2001). “Prickly pear
nopals pectin from Opuntia ficus-indica physico-
chemical study in dilute and semi-dilute solutions”.
Carbohydrate Polymers.46: 69-79. Cit. in :
Goycoolea, F. and Cárdenas, A. (2003) “Pectins
from Opuntia spp.: A Short Review” Journal of the
Professional Association for Cactus Development,
5, 17 – 30.
This work is framed within the agreement Estudio
del cultivo de chumbera (Opuntia ficus-indica (L.)
Miller) y tabaco arbóreo (Nicotiana glauca
Graham) para la producción de bioetanolbetween
Universidad Politécnica de Madrid and Fundación
CAJAMAR. Financial support from Fundación
CAJAMAR through the project CENIT I+DEA
Investigación y Desarrollo del Etanol para
Automoción, (
Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación)
is gratefully acknowledged.
17th European Biomass Conference and Exhibition, 29 June - 3 July 2009, Hamburg, Germany
... Scientific literature on this topic shows that most research projects have been focused on the production of bioethanol from non-fibrous carbohydrates. These works have resulted in ethanol yields between 111 L·t dm -1 [13] and 163 L·t dm -1 [14] after the fermentation of hydrolysates obtained by means of combined enzymaticacid hydrolysis [13] or mild acid hydrolysis [14] of fresh cladodes. ...
... Scientific literature on this topic shows that most research projects have been focused on the production of bioethanol from non-fibrous carbohydrates. These works have resulted in ethanol yields between 111 L·t dm -1 [13] and 163 L·t dm -1 [14] after the fermentation of hydrolysates obtained by means of combined enzymaticacid hydrolysis [13] or mild acid hydrolysis [14] of fresh cladodes. ...
... Biogas production from this feedstock has gathered certain scientific attention since the 1980s, and conclusions reported in literature [4][5][6][7][8][9][10] encourage the industrial development of prickly-pear anaerobic digestion. Bioethanol from prickly-pear cladodes has been less investigated and, though it seems promising (with obtained yields up to 163 L/Mg DM), it still faces uncertainties related to the low fermentation yields of carbohydrates (many of the pentoses present in the mucilage and hemicellulose hydrolysis), the low concentration of ethanol in the brew, and the energy balance of the process [1,9,[11][12][13][14]. ...
Full-text available
Prickly pear is a species that shows great capability to grow in harsh environments with potential for being used as an energy resource. The aim of this paper was to characterize prickly-pear mature cladodes in terms of chemical, proximal, and fuel properties, as well as to study the drying kinetics of this biomass after pretreatments destined to expose the internal tissues of mature cladodes to different temperatures. The results show that prickly-pear biomass was a poor-quality solid biofuel due to a low calorific value (12.9 MJ/kg d.m.b.) and a high ash content (25.8 wt.%). When drying prickly-pear biomass, cutting the cladodes to expose the internal tissues significantly increased the drying rate, especially when temperatures of 60 °C and above were employed. Double exponential (three parameters) and Midilli were the models that best fitted the experimental curves of prickly-pear cladodes cut into straps and cubes when dried at 50–70 °C. Finally, the bulk density of the prickly-pear biomass was similar to the one obtained for herbaceous biomasses, thus suggesting that further densification will enhance the usability of this feedstock.
... For instance, Inglese et al [1] quoted twenty two uses, including two specific uses for the area of the energy production: alcohol and fresh biomass. Two more recent applications, Opuntia liquor [2] and biogas substrate [3] [4] [5] [6] can be added to that list (see Table I). Table I: Applications of Opuntia ficus-indica according to the review by Inglese et al [1]. ...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Prickly-pear features morphological and physiological adaptations to hot arid conditions which make this plant species an ideal crop for arid and semi-arid regions. It is a perennial with a distinct morphology, typically a succession of cladodes. This fact allows the development of a specific allometric method for the estimation of the biomass production of this crop. A close relationship was reported in the literature between non-destructive measurements of cladodes and biomass dry weight. In this work, seasonal variations of the regression line that correlates cladodes dry weights to non-destructive measurements of cladodes are studied. Results showed that a single linear equation can be assumed for most of the growth cycle.
Prickly pear cactus stems, better known as Nopal (Opuntia spp.), is spread around the world as feedstock. It has multiple functional compounds which could be applied in functional foods or as source of nutraceuticals. Nopal application in sugar-based confectionery, bakery and dairy products improved the quality and sensorial attributes and provided bio-functional activities. In addition to applications in pharmaceuticals industry, the stems have been used since ancient time mainly as cattle fodder, fence, to purify water and to restore or control erosion of arid and semiarid lands. As cattle fodder, solid-state fermentation of stems increased the crude protein content up to 26%. As coagulant-bioflocculant nopal biopolymers are applied to water treatment to remove turbidity, suspended solids, organic carbon, kaolin, lead, arsenic, heavy metal ions, pesticide, dyes, and bacteria. Restoration of natural ecosystems with nopal produces besides a tolerant forage to drought conditions, ecological benefits like carbon capture and decreasing the global warming. Another application of nopal is to improve house paint. It is friendly with environment and works for waterproofing. Natural dyes present in fruits, like betalains, are used as natural food colorants. The mucilage of Opuntia spp. has been used to fix colors of dyed fabrics. The stems and their polysaccharides could be used in (a) bio-nano-packaging for the elaboration of coatings and biodegradable-edible films to extend shelf life of fresh, frozen and processed food, and (b) vegan leather with adequate softness. The stems also could be used as a source of enzymes in the dairy sector. In construction, cactus provides benefits in adobes, mortars and concrete reinforcing steel, improves water absorption, enhances freeze-salt resistance, and delays corrosion. In restoring historical buildings and monolith, nopal is used for impregnation of minerals (consolidation). Nopal extracts, mucilage and pectin are used as redox agent to synthetized metal nanoparticles (Li, Ag, Au, hydroxyapatite and ZnFe2O4). Nopal has been assessed as resource to generate biofuels: bioethanol from lignocellulosic material, biogas from polysaccharides, biodiesel form seed oils, and electricity from nopal biogas effluent. An electrochemical cell has been fabricated using cactus stems as an electrolyte. Betacyanin from fruit and aerobic fermented nopal extracts showed photosensitizer properties with applications as dye-sensitized solar cell and holography. The industrial uses of Opuntia spp. stems are described in this chapter. The potential technological uses of these plant and its derivatives are also discussed.
Full-text available
Chemical composition and physical properties of Mediterranean (Tunisian) spiny (Opuntia ficus indica f. amylocea) and spineless cladodes (O. ficus indica f. inermis) were studied. Chemical characterization of the two cladodes varieties showed a high fiber, minerals, especially potassium and calcium, and phenols contents. Powders obtained from spiny and spineless cladodes showed a great technological potentiality as water binding capacity (WBC) and fat absorption capacity (FAC). Cladodes powders were incorporated in wheat flours at 5%, 10%, 15% and 20% levels. Obtained results showed that cladodes flours had a significant effect in wheat dough properties (P < 0.05). In deed, with the increase of cladodes flours levels, an increase of tenacity, energy, adhesion, stickiness, and hardness of dough was observed whereas dough elasticity decreased. A significant difference in physical characteristic between cakes fortified with cladodes flours and control was showed (P < 0.05). With the increase of cladodes flours levels in formulation, cakes hardness increased whereas L* and a* crust and crumb color values decreased. Increasing levels of cladodes flours caused decreases in total sensory scores. The overall acceptability rate showed that a maximum of 5% cladodes flours can be incorporated to prepare acceptable quality cakes.
Full-text available
El presente trabajo tiene como objetivo optimizar el método de extracción del mucílago del nopal (Opuntia ficus-indica var. Forrajera) y estudiar su potencial utilización como formador de recubrimientos comestibles. Como tal, se ha aplicado en un producto vegetal cortado: la jícama. Para cubrir este objetivo se ha realizado una caracterización del mucílago extraído por diferentes procedimientos, que ha puesto de manifiesto la influencia de dicho método en las características químicas (macro y microcomponentes) y físicas (comportamiento reológico, color, solubilidad) de los extractos. El procedimiento que incluye el escaldado de la penca pelada y molida fue el que dio un producto con mejores características para su uso como recubrimiento, por presentar mayor poder espesante (mayor peso molecular promedio), por ser su solubilidad menos sensible al pH y presentar mejor color. El mucílago extraído por el procedimiento seleccionado se caracterizó en cuanto a su interacción con el agua mediante la obtención de la isoterma de sorción y la relación temperatura de transición vítrea-humedad. Además, se estudió su capacidad formadora de films evaluando las propiedades de barrera al vapor de agua, solubilidad, las propiedades mecánicas y las propiedades ópticas (color, translucidez y brillo) a tres humedades de equilibrio diferentes. Así mismo, se evaluó el efecto de la adición de lípidos (ácido oleico o esteárico) en diferente proporción en las propiedades anteriores. Los resultados obtenidos mostraron que el ácido oleico permite obtener films con mejores propiedades mecánicas y de barrera al vapor de agua, aunque imparte una cierta tonalidad amarillenta al film. Las formulaciones con ácido oleico fueron evaluadas como recubrimientos en cubos de jícama. Ninguna formulación supuso una reducción de la pérdida de agua del producto durante su almacenamiento a 4 ºC y 85 % de humedad relativa, pero si se evitó la perdida de firmeza.
Water relations of the photosynthetic tissue (chlorenchyma) and of the water-storage parenchyma were studied for well watered and droughted Opuntia ficus-indica, a crassulacean acid metabolism plant cultivated worldwide for its fruits and cladodes. For well watered plants, die1 changes in osmotic pressure were evident in the chlorenchyma. Droughting the plants for 4 months resulted in a massive loss of water from the cladodes, particularly from the water-storage parenchyma, which could lose up to 82% of the water present at full turgor without irreversible tissue damage. Pressure-volume curves indicated a decrease in the osmotic pressure at full turgor of about 0.1 MPa for the water-storage parenchyma cells during drought; such a decrease of osmotically active solutes was consistent with the appearance of large numbers of starch grains. The bulk modulus of elasticity was 0.36 MPa for the water-storage parenchyma cells and 2.5-fold higher for the chlorenchyma cells, which were smaller with thicker cell walls than the former cells. Mucilage, a polysaccharide occurring extracellularly, constituted about 14% of the cladode dry weight; it could hold more than 30% of the total water content of the water-storage parenchyma. Polymerisation of sugars, large elastic cells in the water-storage parenchyma and mucilage with its high water-holding capacity helped maintain a positive turgor in the photosynthetic tissue, even after 4 months of drought.
Cacti, particularlyOpuntia ficus-indica(=O. ficus-barbarica), were introduced to Spain at the end of the 15th century and from there spread over the whole Mediterranean Basin. They have been used for almost 500 years as a fruit crop, a defensive hedge, a support for cochineal production of dye (carminic acid) and, more recently, as a fodder crop and as a standing buffer feed for drought periods; they can also play a key role in erosion control and land rehabilitation, particularly in arid and semi-arid zones, and as a shelter, refuge and feed resource for wildlife (birds and mammals alike).This article analyses the ecological requirements of cacti and particularly of the common and most utilized spineless type,Opuntia ficus-indicaformainermis, its drought-tolerance, food and feed value for humans, herbivores and fructivores and its potential for land rehabilitation, cheap and easy erosion control and the rational use of marginal land. Cactus plantations and hedges probably cover about 1,000,000 ha in the Basin (includingO. ficus-indicaformaamyclaea), particularly in the Mediterranean islands and North Africa; but, unlike in other subtropical zones, cacti have never become an invasive pest in the Basin. The spineless cacti never become invasive pests anyway, as they are grazed out, unless totally protected from herbivores, either naturally (cliffs) or artificially (fences).
The water soluble fraction of peeled prickly pear nopals called native sample (NS) has been characterised mainly by SEC/MALLS analysis. Two main components have been identified: one with high average molar mass (Mw of 13×106gmol−1) called the high weight sample (HWS), the other being a low Mw fraction (LWS). After extensive ultra filtration of NS, isolated HWS and LWS are obtained. From sugar composition analysis, HWS has been found to be a pure polysaccharide, without protein of the pectin family. Moreover, HWS contains a low amount of charged sugar. The conformation of HWS has been discussed using molar masses, gyration radii and viscometry results and LWS has been evidenced as a protein. Rheological behaviour is reported to give an initial understanding of the system's behaviour. The effect of the degree and purification and added monovalent and divalent salts were investigated, The low charge density of the polymer backbone resulted in interesting viscosity stability even in the presence of salts.
The cactus pear (Opuntia ficus indica) mucilage is an interesting ingredient for the food industry because of its viscosity properties. We studied the conditions for the extraction and precipitation of the plants mucilage. Extraction conditions were: pad/water ratios (1:51:7), extraction temperature, (40±2 and 16±2 °C) and extraction time (4, 8 and 16 h). For the precipitation of the mucilage two types of alcohol (ethanol and isopropyl alcohol) and two water/alcohol ratios (1:3 and 1:4) were used.No differences were found in any of the measured variables among the different extraction or precipitation methods.The average mucilage yield after drying was 1.48% based on fresh weight (f.w.) and 19.4% based on dry weight (d.w.).The dried mucilage had in average 5.6% moisture; 7.3% protein; 37.3% ash; 1.14% nitrogen; 9.86% calcium and 1.55% of potassium. The colour analysis showed a high L* value and the chromatic co-ordinates were in the yellow-greenish spectrum.The use of isopropyl alcohol is recommended in ratio 1:3, since its commercial value is lower in comparison with ethanol.
Although traditionally used as a valuable health supporting nutrient, the vegetative parts of Opuntia spp. plants are scarcely used in modern nutrition and medicine. While all kinds of different Opuntia spp. have been studied, a systematic approach regarding the inter-relationships between the composition and the pre- and postharvest conditions is still missing. Therefore, the present review compiles and discusses literature on the chemical composition of cactus stems, the knowledge on uses in food, medicine, and cosmetics. It is concluded that much research is needed to get an insight into the multitude of bioactivities reported in the traditional literature but also to take advantage of the respective constituents for food and pharmaceutical applications.
Aprovechamiento Agroenergético de la Chumbera (Opuntia ficusindica (L. Mill.))". Doctoral Thesis
  • N Retamal
Retamal, N.(1987) "Aprovechamiento Agroenergético de la Chumbera (Opuntia ficusindica (L. Mill.))". Doctoral Thesis. Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (Spain).