Following the advice of academics, Shirley Kimberly Enríquez, a student of the Universidad del Valle de Mexico (UVM), developed a cactus mucilage capsule that is capable of purifying water.
The development of the young student of Engineering in Energy and Sustainable Development has proven to be 100% sustainable, since the process of dehydration of the cactus to obtain the substance is carried out with a solar stove created by another group of young engineers of Mechatronics belonging to the same institution.
In addition, Noptec, as they have called the product, is also free of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions for water purification, since fossil fuels are not used at any stage of the process.
The capsule emerged as an alternative to help solve the problem of access to drinking water in marginalized communities in Mexico.
For this innovation, a cactus compound called mucilage was used and achieved through the clustering of suspended colloidal particles. The process begins with the separation of the cactus´s epidermis, subsequently, the cladode is blanched and a solar cooker is used.
Then a filtering is carried out, the remaining material is placed in a water bath, and finally the precipitation and drying of the mucilage is done to crush it and place it in capsules.
To carry out the cactus dehydration process, the student worked in cooperation with UVM Mechatronics Engineering students Abdiel Acosta, Julián Mora, Alejandro Trejo, and César Ramírez, who created a solar stove, which was built with waste. “Which also makes Noptec a sustainable product, free of CO2 emissions and low cost,” she said.
According to Kimberly’s lab tests, each one-gram Noptec capsule manages to purify water of bacteria, mineral salts and heavy metals such as selenium and lead.
According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef), deaths from diarrheal diseases, especially in children, are associated with lack of drinking water, sufficient availability for personal hygiene and lack of sanitation services, among others.