Use of Prosopis laevigata Seed Gum and Opuntia ficus-indica Mucilage for the Treatment of Municipal Wastewaters by Coagulation-Flocculation


Prosopis laevigata and Opuntia ficus-indica grow in arid and semiarid regions of Mexico and other countries. Both produce biopolymers with interesting characteristics from the rheological point of view as well as because of their coagulating-flocculating capabilities. Prosopis produce galactomannans inside the endosperm, very similar to those found in guar, locust bean, and tara gums. Opuntia sp. produces mucilage that contains polygalacturonic acid and five neutral sugars. Prosopis seed gum has not been proposed to be used as coagulant-flocculant before. In the case of Opuntia mucilage, some authors have suggested its use in the treatment of waters, using either the mucilage or the whole cladode powder. The use of these products in the treatment of municipal or even industrial wastewaters could give rise to diverse benefits. From the environmental point of view, treated waters with neither Fe nor Al, nor synthetic polymers would be obtained (with less toxicity risk). Besides, the produced sludges would be smaller in amount, with better biodegradability, and lower metals content. From the economical point of view, the use of these biopolymers would give an added value to the Opuntia and Prosopis culture in Mexico, helping small communities to enhance their incomes by producing environmental-friendly products. This work shows that both Prosopis galactomannan and Opuntia mucilage can be used to treat municipal wastewaters with an initial organic charge of about 827 mg/L as COD by the coagulation-flocculation process, with COD removals for the mesquite seed gum of up to 90% (pH 10, dose of 75 mg/L) and of 60% (pH 7, doses of 50 and 150 mg/L). In the case of mucilage, 65% of the initial COD was removed at pH 10 (dose of 50 mg/L). These figures are very promising for the treatment of wastewaters, with environmental-friendly products.

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L. Torres and S. Carpinteyro-Urban, "Use of Prosopis laevigata Seed Gum and Opuntia ficus-indica Mucilage for the Treatment of Municipal Wastewaters by Coagulation-Flocculation," Natural Resources, Vol. 3 No. 2, 2012, pp. 35-41. doi: 10.4236/nr.2012.32006.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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