Clear as Mucilage
Brenda Chow, Rosanna Yee
Vancouver Technical Secondary
Floor Location : S 197 V

The availability of safe drinking water is a worldwide concern. The use of flocculating agents is one method that is currently employed in the water cleaning process. Aluminium sulphate and ferric sulphate, for example, are two common flocculating agents. However, because they are under speculation for environmentally damaging effects, new, benign methods have been researched. From old Latin American traditions and new scientific research, the mucilage of Opuntia Ficus Indica (prickly pear cactus) has been found to be an effective flocculating agent that can remove particulate matter and heavy metals from polluted water. rnrn However, for our experiments, we opted to use the Aloe Vera plant, another succulent plant that is rich in mucilage. Relatively cheap and easy to grow, it is accessible in many countries in the world, including those with water contamination issues. This experiment seeks to test whether the mucilage in Aloe Vera also has flocculating abilities that can clean water. rnrn The variables we tested were the time period that contaminated water is allowed to interact with the mucilage, and the amount of mucilage used. The time variables consisted of one hour and four hours while the amounts of mucilage used were 0 mL, 5 mL and 10 mL. The control is contaminated water untreated with mucilage and not given any time to settle. To make the solution of particulates, we chose dry clay since it easily and uniformly disperses in water. Finally, our null hypothesis was that mucilage would have no affect on the amount of particles suspended in polluted water.rnrn The data and results of the experiment show that mucilage treated solutions have higher transmittance, indicating that there is less particles suspended in the water. As compared to 38.4% transmittance, the average for the control, adding mucilage (in the amounts of 5-10 mL) increased transmittance by over 10%. It was also found that time was not a major factor. We put our data through Anova and t-tests and found that statistically, our results are significant and have little probability of occurring by random sampling errors; therefore, the null hypothesis can be rejected. Mucilage extracted from the cladodes of the Aloe Vera plant is shown to have a significant affect on particulate levels in polluted water and is able to flocculate particles suspended in polluted water, allowing a supernatant portion to form.rn