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AGAVE: Grows in Dry Lands, on Dry Lands

Written by Nancy O'Mallon on

Interview with CEO of The Agave Project: Part 2
Arturo Velez Jimenez, CEO of The Agave Project has been working on biofuel, bioenergy, and the bio products
that are delivered from Agave, the plant better known for its use in the production of Tequila. We
recently welcomed Arturo back to About Harvest.
AH:What are the qualities of the Agave plant that bring such promising potential as a biofuel and bioenergy?
AVJ:Well, the main importance is that they grow in dry lands, on dry lands, you know. They don’t need watering,
they don’t need fertilizing or pesticides; all these chemicals that are usually put into the ground. Agave doesn’t
need it. These numbers I’m giving you are from wild Agave species under natural conditions. So if we start
irrigating and fertilizing this Agave, we could easily double these numbers and make a great business. So this is
a great opportunity to lower the price of ethanol and mass, produce it massively all around the world. And the
other important thing is that Agave is packed with sugars, ten times more sugars than sugar cane in the juice,
and also the cellulose content of the fibers is one of the highest. Only a couple of feedstocks are above Agave.
You know, the Agave – all of the Agave species – produce more cellulose per hector than trees, than let’s say
eucalyptus, you know fast grown eucalyptus. So Agave is very, very productive in terms of sugar in the juice,
and in the fibers. And this is very important because you can develop two businesses at the same time.

Prickly Pear Opuntieae Opuntia

AH:Why are you intercropping the Agave with the Prickly Pear plant?

I’m talking California.07 per kilowatt hour which is comparable to the price of electricity generated burning coal.and also in northern Mexico. they have a lot of wind on California coasts so they can produce. they are getting 1. In Mexico we have only got 600 tons. fossil coal. Opuntia produces a lot of biomass. Southwest USA produces less than 1% of the total biomass of the US. or soluble biofuels. And recently I had a trial in china. So this is very important because over 5 billion tons of coal are burned every year. New Mexico. but if we can rise that to 1. Arizona. even Texas. And also the bio digester path is recognized by the UN as a clean developing mechanism technology.“ AH: Will you tell me about what your current collaborations are? AVJ:Okay. I am mainly interested in working in the US and China because those are the huge markets. So they are willing to bring in to develop this project. And agave is a great opportunity for them. Recently. They have a lot of land. and we finally have a substitute that competes in the economics.AVJ:Well mainly because investors want to get a profit as soon as possible. They have a lot of sun. and they were very interested in hearing about this Agave Border Coalition. They produce very little biomass. and converting it into biofuels and bio products. and it’s very probable that I will be moving to the US to develop this project there.800 tons of green biomass per hector per year. we have to wait at least three years. but with not very good response. People in Chile are talking. we could produce that to generate electricity via bio digester. and Opuntia brings in the opportunity to getting some profit from year one. and they could easily produce this southwestern states. And but in the US I’ve been trying to form an NGO which will be called the Agave Border Coalition which will be producing Agave. they can generate electricity from renewable sources. But recently I got an invitation from the northern group to go and tell them about these opportunities of Agave. . generating electricity would be around $0. I was contacted by the – well this initiative has been very well received in southern USA.000 tons per hector per year. And with Agave. but they don’t have the biomass to produce liquid biofuels. “…they could easily produce half of the ethanol that is needed in the US…. and Opuntia. they could easily produce half of the ethanol that is needed in the US. and the cost of producing. those are the huge polluters.

the scientist who will be in charge of this in the government. which is the highest ranking level of scientist association in Mexico. and also president of the Cinvestav. you know. AH:Arturo. before I let you go. So those two are my main concerns now. We have a lot of Opuntia in Mexico City. there’s a lot – we are just – we have just started a new facility to produceinulin. it’s the main producer in Mexico. And the man. you know. Inulin is . and development to take this to the industrial level. I’m also working with the government in Mexico City to develop this project here. and we will develop some research.AH:So what happens next for you then? AVJ:Well. And every year around 400. is there anything that I haven’t asked you about that you might want to share with us? AVJ:Well. and developing this product in Mexico City. I don’t know. well he was the president of the Mexican Academy of Sciences. working into the US. and he is very interested in Agave as a feedstock.000 tons of Opuntia are wasted so we are trying to develop this project to generate electricity from Opuntia via bio digester.

AVJ:Well thank you very much Nancy. About Harvest. “Finally. and the path is very clear. and we contacted Wal-Mart. We are very. there are investors interested. I have been in contact with Mascoma. and as soon as we can produce the glucose they need. and Gevo for several years. very pleased that now I’m moving forward very fast. history and relevance of agricultural crops grown and harvested around the world. and we will obviously continue to follow your story with great interest. and they are wiling to pay $2. LLC shares stories about food and agriculture. It’s considered a functional food. Science . So this is great business. We wish you much continued success with this important work. Farming.“ AH:Arturo. I’m very. and our cost of production is around $1.50 per kilo of inulin. and makes some money in order to be able to invest that money in our biofuels project. Finally. the technology is ready. The Agave Project Object1 . So that’s about the path that we are following now. there are investors interested. a natural sugar that contains a lot of fiber. You know. agave biomass. biobased chemicals. Subscribe to receive stories about the science. biofuels. Innovation.Tags: agave. Arturo Velez.a sugar. the technology is ready. very interested in developing this inulin project worldwide because these sugars are very good for human’s health. Categories: Education.00 per kilo. Food. I want to thank you for taking the time to speak with me today. we will try to develop some joint venture with them. initiative. especially to the poor tropical regions of the world. and bring this technology to the world. So its got a huge market. You know. bioproducts.