Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Scientific Communities
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article

Cactus "Flesh" Cleans Up Toxic Water

Published: Tuesday, August 13, 2013
Last Updated: Tuesday, August 13, 2013
Bookmark and Share
Prickly pear cacti may be natural, cheaper answer to water cleanup.

University of South Florida engineering professor Norma Alcantar and her team are using the "flesh" from Prickly Pear cacti, called mucilage, to clean up oil and other toxins from water. With support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), Alcantar has spent the last few years confirming something that her grandmother told her years ago--that cacti can purify water.

"This research is a good example of NSF's investment in sustainable chemistry which promotes the replacement of expensive and/or toxic chemicals with Earth-abundant, inexpensive and benign chemicals," says Debra Reinhart, program director in the Chemical, Bioengineering, Environmental and Transport Systems Division of the NSF's Engineering Directorate.

The objectives of this research are to develop a water purification system based on an economically feasible method of water purification using cactus mucilage for low-income inhabitants of rural communities that are sensitive to existing economic, social and cultural patterns. The project transcends national boundaries as it includes collaborations among investigators at the University of South Florida, two leading Mexican public universities, and the National Institute of the Environment in Mexico.

The cactus project has been assessed for the rural communities of Temamatla in central Mexico, for Port-au-Prince, Haiti, after the 2010 earthquake, and for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2011. Temamatla is located 25 miles (40 kilometers) southeast of Mexico City and was critical for this study owing to its proximity to volcanic soils where the concentration of heavy metals such as cobalt, mercury, nickel, copper, zinc, iron, manganese, chromium, iodine, arsenic, molybdenum and lead in local water supplies may be higher than recommended values. In Haiti, the outcomes of the project were to determine the composition of the ground water beds after the earthquake and evaluate the feasibility of implementing a low cost technology for disaster relief based on cactus mucilage. The cactus mucilage is also able to disperse crude oil efficiently at much lower concentrations than synthetic dispersants.

The broader implications of this project include the multidisciplinary participation of American and Mexican researchers in issues that are relevant to both countries owing to their proximity and preexisting ties. Such collaboration will promote mutual opportunities and infrastructure for research, education, training, networking and future partnerships. Most importantly, the proposed technology will improve current water-related issues and problems in areas of extreme need.

Further Information
Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 2,600+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More Than 3,800+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters

Sign In

Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

Blueprint for the Affordable Genome
Stampede supercomputer powers innovations in DNA sequencing technologies.
Friday, June 27, 2014
Tailoring Disease Screening Programs to Individuals
To address the current one size fits all approach a NSF-funded scientist has developed a computer algorithm that will allow women to reach a decision customized for them.
Friday, March 21, 2014
'Smuggling' Drugs at the Cellular Level
Drexel researchers use ultrasound to deliver customized medication through the skin.
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Identifying the Pathway that Leads to Cells Forming into an Individual Body
By studying how genes influence cells to migrate and mutate, scientist hopes findings will lead to improved cancer treatments.
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Nanogrid, Activated by Sunlight, Breaks Down Pollutants in Water
Oil spills do untold damage to the environment, the waters they pollute and to marine and other wildlife.
Monday, November 11, 2013
One Day, we May Fill the Tank with Fungi Fuel!
Plant fungi and bacteria called "endophytes" fueling breakthroughs in energy, medicine and more.
Wednesday, September 25, 2013
Understanding how our Genes Help us Develop
Humans and fruit flies have similar Hox genes, which are master regulators of embryonic development.
Monday, September 16, 2013
US and UK Scientists Collaborate to Design Crops of the Future
Three Ideas Lab projects and a fourth NSF-sponsored project aim to transform future farming while reducing pollution and energy consumption.
Thursday, August 22, 2013
Genomic and Computational Tools Provide Window to Distant Past
Researcher studies gene differences in humans and other species to better understand timeline of genetic changes.
Friday, August 09, 2013
Bacterial DNA May Integrate Into Human Genome More Readily in Tumor Tissue
Gene transfer may play role in cancer, other diseases linked with DNA damage.
Thursday, June 27, 2013
GWC Technologies Awarded NSF Grant to Develop novel Protein Microarray Products
Grant accelerates development of the company’s Carbon-on-Metal technology for protein array analysis.
Friday, July 03, 2009
NSF Awards $14M to Advance Plant Genomic Research
Resources to be developed include genomic sequences, genetic markers, maps and expressed sequence collections.
Thursday, January 11, 2007
Nanoethics Researchers Awarded $250,000 from National Science Foundation
Three-year project to study ethics of human enhancement and nanotechnology.
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
NSF Awards $145,924 Grant to Williams College
The project will establish a laboratory at Williams for the collection of DNA sequence and genotype data.
Monday, November 21, 2005
Scientific News
Lung Repair and Regeneration Gene Discovered
New role for hedgehog gene offers better understanding of lung disease.
How Cell Growth Triggers Cell Division
Researchers in Jan Skotheim's lab have discovered a previously unknown mechanism that controls how large cells grow, an insight that could one day provide insight into attacking diseases such as cancer.
Microbe Sleuth
Tanja Bosak examines how life and the Earth evolved in tandem during their early history together.
3 Ways Viruses Have Changed Science for the Better
Viruses are really good at what they do, and we’ve been able to harness their skills to learn about – and potentially improve – human health in several ways.
Restoring Vision with Stem Cells
Age-related macular degeneration (AMRD) could be treated by transplanting photoreceptors produced by the directed differentiation of stem cells, thanks to findings published today by Professor Gilbert Bernier of the University of Montreal and its affiliated Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital.
The Age of Humans Controlling Microbes
Engineered bacteria could soon be used to detect environmental toxins, treat diseases, and sustainably produce chemicals and fuels.
Mixed Up Cell Transportation Key Piece of ALS and Dementia Puzzle
Researchers from the University of Toronto are one step closer to solving this incredibly complex puzzle, offering hope for treatment.
Metabolomic Platform Reveals Fundamental Flaw in Common Lab Technology
A new study led by scientists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) shows that a technology used in thousands of laboratories, called gas chromatography mass spectrometry (GC-MS), fundamentally alters the samples it analyzes.
Atriva Therapeutics GmbH Develops Innovative Flu Drug
Highly effective against seasonal and pandemic influenza.
New Gene Therapy for Vision Loss From a Mitochondrial Disease
NIH-funded study shows success in targeting mitochondrial DNA in mice.
Scroll Up
Scroll Down
Skyscraper Banner

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
2,600+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
3,800+ scientific videos