Journal of Water Resource and Protection, 2013, 5, 1242-1246
Published Online December 2013 (
Open Access JWARP
Evaluation of the Opuntia dillenii as Natural Coagulant
in Water Clarification: Case of Treatment of Highly
Turbid Surface Water
Yéwêgnon Alima Esther Irma Nougbodé1,2, Cokou Pascal Agbangnan2, Alain Yaya Koudoro2,
Comlan Achille Dèdjiho1, Martin Pépin Aïna2, Daouda Mama1,
Dominique Codjo Koko Sohounhloué2*
1Laboratoire d’Hydrologie Appliquée (LHA), Faculté des Sciences et Techniques, Université d’Abomey-Calavi,
Cotonou, République du Bénin
2Laboratoire d’Etude et de Recherche en Chimie Appliquée (LERCA), Ecole Polytechnique d’Abomey Calavi (EPAC),
Université d’Abomey-Calavi, Cotonou, République du Bénin
Email: *,
Received September 13, 2013; revised October 17, 2013; accepted November 14, 2013
Copyright © 2013 Yéwêgnon Alima Esther Irma Nougbodé et al . This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons
Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is
properly cited.
This study was performed in laboratory scale and consisted of the using of aqueous Opuntia dillenii solution for the
clarification of very turbid surface water (Turbidities varying between 186 NTU and 418 NTU). This plant from Cac-
taceae family was used as a natural coagulant for the different clarification tests. The preliminary phytochemical Screen-
ing of the powder of this plant showed that it contains tanins, saponins and mucilages. Flocculation and coagulation
tests showed that Opuntia dillenii can be used in highly turbid water treatment. The removal efficiency varied from 89%
to 93% for the turbidity and suspended solids, and from 4% to 15% for the obvious color in water when we used the
optimum values of this natural coagulant (1 mL to 10 mL). The successive addition of this natural coagulant and the
lime, gave a better elimination of turbidity and suspended solids, and a good reduction for the color. The removal effi-
ciency of the turbidity and suspended solids became more than 95% and the one of the color between 67% and 94%.
Keywords: Natural Coagulant; Opuntia dillen ii; Lime; Phytochemical Screening; Turbidity; Suspended Solids
1. Introduction
Surface water contains dissolved organic and inorganic
substances, living organisms and suspended solids [1].
These waters intended for human consumption, require a
specific sequence of treatments which comprises a physi-
cal and/or chemical pretreatment step followed by clari-
fication (coagulation flocculation, sedimentation, and fil-
tration) and finally a disinfection treatment and/or refin-
ing treatment.
Processes of coagulation and flocculation represent a
decisive step in this processing chain. Coagulant removes
small size of suspended solids called colloidal particles
that give water undesirable properties such as turbidity,
most often caused by clay minerals on which organic sub-
stances can be adsorbed. It also removes the color gener-
ally caused by organic substances such as humic and ful-
vic acids. The remove of these colloidal particles and co-
lor can lead to remove pollutants from water by adsorption
and therefore a significant removal of undesirable organic
substance, such as trihalomethane precursors [2,3].
The coagulants and flocculants which have the most
usage in water treatment are the synthetic ones as alumin-
ium sulphate, ferric chloride, lime, synthetic polymers
[4,5]. These chemicals are often costly, and may not be
available locally, or may have detrimental effects on
health and the environment [6].
To overcome these problems, scientific researchers find
sustainable alternative technologies using natural coagu-
lants. The seeds of Moringa oleifera are used as natural
coagulant for drinking water with better removal effi-
ciency of pollution elements such as turbidity, suspended
solids and some metals [7-12].
*Corresponding author.
Several other natural flocculants were tested around the
world for the water treatment. This is among other things
as flocculant extract from Moroccan cactus which has led
to a significant reduction of turbidity and the elimination
of more than 99% of chromium (VI) in industrial waste-
water [13]. Peels fruits of Lablab purpureus were also
used as natural coagulant in water treatment with a yield
of 77% for turbidity [14]. Similarly the use of Plantago
ovata and flocculant activity of casein acid extracted from
the coconut cream in the clarification of surface water has
been demonstrated [15-17]. Some metals such as nickel,
iron, zinc, copper, aluminium, chromium and lead, can be
removed from the water with a very high efficiency of up
to 99% by use of natural coagulants such as the powder of
Moringa seeds, Opuntia ficus indica and many other
natural resources [7,18-20].
This study is conducted to expand the range of naturals
coagulants used in water clarification in order to increase
the chance of access to it, to the population regardless of
its geographical position. We chose to use the stems of
Opuntia dillenii because of its accessibility in the sub-
region especially in Benin Republic. The general objec-
tive of this work is to clarify highly turbid water using this
plant which belongs to the same family than that of Opun-
tia ficus indica, which has been already experimented in
the literature. It will be specifically used in a first step, this
natural coagulant for the removal of suspended solids in
highly turbid surface water and in a second step, to com-
bine this coagulant with lime to remove the obvious color
of the surface water.
2. Materials and Methods
2.1. Plant Materiels
Cactus (Opuntia dillenii) has been collected in Cotonou
town in Benin Republic. The stems of this plant were
stripped of their thorns and were cleaned with tap water.
A portion was ground immediately for the recovery of
the juice for the clarification test. The other part was
dried in the laboratory for two weeks and then reduced to
powder for phytochemical test.
Prepar ation of the Opuntia dillenii Aqueous Solution
The stems of Opuntia dillenii were stripped of their thorns,
then washed and crushed; 50 g of crushed were intro-
duced into 500 mL of distilled water and stirred using a
magnetic stirrer for one hour, then strained through a
sieve of 25 mm mesh. The filtrate collected was stored in
a refrigerator until the use which not exceeding one week.
2.2. Physico-Chemical Parameters
The pH, conductivity and turbidity were measured re-
spectively using a pH meter/conductivity meter WTW
340i and turbidity meter TURBIQUANT 1100 IR. The
color and suspended solids were measured using a col-
orimeter HACH DR/890. The coagulation and floccula-
tion test were conducted using a flocculator LOVIBOND
in six stations.
2.3. Preliminary Phytochemical Screening
The phytochemical screening was based on the coloring
reactions and/or the precipitation reactions of the chemi-
cal compounds in plants according to the method de-
scribed in BAGRE’s studies [21] and summarized in ta-
2.4. Jar Test Experiments (Coagulation
Flocculation Test)
Raw water used for this test was drawn from the Nokoué
lake at the lagoon in Abomey Calavi town in Benin Re-
public. This water was a receptacle of all kinds of dis-
charges due to intense human activity.
The coagulation flocculation was performed according
to the protocol of “Jar Test” with rapid mixing of 160
rpm for 2 minutes, followed by slow mixing of 40 rpm
for 30 minutes and settling time of one hour. Increasing
doses of cactus solution and/or lime were introduced in
1000 mL of raw water. After settling time, 100 mL of the
supernatant were collected in the average of 2 and 3 cm
from the surface using a pipette and subjected to the
same physico-chemical analyzes of the raw water. The
removal efficiency of the analyzed parameters was de-
termined by the formula below:
Removal parameter in percentage100CC C
Ci represents the concentration of the parameter in the
raw water.
Cf represents the concentration of the same parameter
in the treated water.
3. Results and Discussion
3.1. Results of Preliminary Phytochemical
The results for preliminary phytochemical screening car-
ried out on the Opuntia dillenii’s rods powder were
shown in Ta bl e 1. From these results, Tannins, saponins
and mucilages were detected. However, they were devoid
of alkaloids, flavonoids and reducing compounds. Re-
sults were similar to those of N. Gebresamuel [22]. The
presence of mucilages and tannins, conferred to this plant
its flocculant property.
3.2. Results of Jar Test
The different results obtained are shown in Figur es 1-7 .
The relationship between the volumes of the Opuntia
Open Access JWARP
dillenii aqueous solution used as natural coagulant and
the removal of turbidity, suspended solids and of the ob-
Table 1. Preliminary phytochemical screening of Opuntia
Tested for Specific test/Reagent used Results
Alkaloids Mayer’s reagent, Bouchardat’s reagent(-)
Tannins Ferric chloride Test (+)
Flavonoids Ferric chloride Test
Reaction with NaOH (-)
Saponins Froth Test (+)
Mucilages Test with absolute ether (+)
Reducing compounds Fehling’s test (-)
Quinones Borntraeger’s reagent (-)
(-) absence; (+) = presence.
Figure 1. Removal of Turbidity, suspended solids and the
apparent color of the treated water according to the volume
of Opuntia dillenii aqueous solution added.
Figure 2. Removal of turbidity, suspended solids and the
obvious color of treated water according to the volume of
Opuntia dillenii aqueous solution added (concentration of
lime remaining fixed: 0.25 g/L).
Figure 3. Removal of turbidity, suspended solids and the
obvious color of the treated water according to the volume
of Opuntia dillenii aqueous solution added (concentration of
lime remaining fixed: 0.50 g/L).
Figure 4. Removal of turbidity, suspended solids and the
obvious color of the treated water according to the volume
of Opuntia dillenii aqueous solution added (concentration of
lime remaining fixed: 1 g/L).
Figure 5. Removal of turbidity, suspended solids and the
obvious color of the treated water according to the concen-
tration of lime added (the volume of Opuntia dillenii aque-
ous solution remaining fixed: 1 mL).
Figure 6. Removal of turbidity, suspended solids and the
obvious color of the treated water acccording to the concen-
tration of lime added (the volume of opuntia dillenii aqueous
solution remaining fixed: 5 mL).
Figure 7. Removal of Turbidity, suspended solids and the
obvious color of the treated water according to the concen-
tration of lime added (the volume of the Opuntia dillenii
aqueous solution remaining fixed: 10 mL).
vious color of the treated water was showed in Figure 1.
From these results, it appeared that using only the opti-
mal dosages of this solution (from 1 mL to 10 mL), the
removal efficiencies of the obvious color were very low
Open Access JWARP
(from 4% to 15%) compared to the removal efficiencies
of suspended solids and turbidity yields (from 89% to
93%). These results were similar to other studies using
another species of cactus, Opuntia ficus indica and other
natural coagulant to remove turbidity of waters [14,15].
Increasing solution Opuntia dillenii from 1 to 40 mL, the
removal of the color changed from 15% to (7%). This
removal became negative when adding greater than 20
mL of volume of this natural coagulant and this meant
the value of the color of the treated water was higher than
that of raw water. We could deduce that using this co-
agulant at low dose could slightly reduce the color of the
water, but this trend was reversed when it was used at
high dose.
Figures 2-7 showed us results of the influence of the
combination of lime and Opuntia dillenii aqueous solu-
tion on the elimination of parameters studied. From these
figures, it appeared that the combination of lime and
Opuntia dillenii solution significantly increased not only
the removal of turbidity and of suspended solids (>97),
but also that of the obvious color which changed from
15% using Opuntia dillenii solution alone, to 94% for the
optimal combination of this solution with lime. Our re-
sults were similar to Abid studies [13], which showed
that the optimum value 11 of the pH provided a good so-
lid-liquid separation hence the increase of performance
of the treatment process in terms of suspended solids.
Figures 5-7 showed that, the percentage of color re-
moval increased with the dose of lime. If the volume of
natural coagulant was set at 1 ml, the removal of color
changed from 82% to 92% for a concentration of lime
ranging between 0.25 g/L and 1 g/L (Figure 5). Varying
the volume of the latter solution at 5, 10, and 20 mL, still
for the same variations lime, the removal intervals be-
come respectively 67% to 94% (Figure 6) 62% to 92%
(Figure 7) and 45% to 88% (Figure 8). These results
showed that even combining it with lime, the increased
of Opuntia dillenii aqueous solution always resulted a
lower of color removal because this changed from 94%
to 88% for the adding of 1 g/L of lime (Figures 6-8). The
performance obtained for suspended solids were similar
to those obtained in other studies using Moroccan cactus
which botanically is Opuntia ficus indica [13].
4. Conclusions
At the end of this study that focused on the use of Opun-
tia dillenii aqueous solution as a natural coagulant for the
waters treatment, we can conclude that the use of this
plant helps not only rid this water of suspended solids
thereby eliminating turbidity, but its combined action
with lime eliminates water color. Our treatment test car-
ried out on the highly turbid water of Nokoué lake in
Benin Republic, has shown that 1 mL of this natural co-
agulant allows clarifying a liter of this water with a re-
Figure 8. Removal of turbidity, suspended solids and the
obvious color of the treated water according to the concen-
tration of lime added (the volume of the Opuntia dillenii
aqueous solution remaining fixed: 20 mL).
moval of 89% for the suspended solids, 93% for the tur-
bidity and 15% for the color. This same quantity of this
natural coagulant used with 1 g/L of lime provides better
outputs of removal for the parameters studied until 99%
for the suspended solids and turbidity and 89% for the
Opuntia dillenii could be a possible alternative or can
display a good role of chemical flocculant or coagulant.
It could be more cost-effective for the treatment of the
waters and wastewaters especially in our African coun-
tries where the economic situation was lackluster.
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