Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

MS in Chemical Engineering (M.S.C.H.)

Degree Granting Department

Chemical Engineering

Major Professor

Norma Alcantar, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Babu Joseph, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Mark J. Jaroszeski, Ph.D.


cesium, iodide, radionuclide


Potable water is a necessity and unfortunately, it can be contaminated in many different ways. This paper specifically addresses the case scenario when, water has been contaminated by radionuclides. The mucilage of Opuntia ficus-indica (OFI), has been proven to be a great flocculating agent, turbidity reducer, crude oil dispersant and an environmentally friendly substance as an absorbent of water contaminants. In this work, the OFI mucilage was investigate to evaluate its capacity to separate radioactive ions from water. The surrogate approach is modeled based on water studies performed by Willi A. Brand, who proved that radioactive isotopes behave similar to their stable isotope, which can be easily experimented on without running the risk being exposed to radioactive harm. The surrogate model was used in conjunction with a trial and error method to determine optimum removal of Iodine and Cesium. A wide range of OFI concentrations and pH values were tested, which allowed for the determination of the optimal conditions for which cactus mucilage can remove the desired elements. The cactus mucilage is acidic by nature and experiments were performed to determine if its performance is affected by the changes in pH. This work is one of its kind in which a natural material can be used to remove potentially harmful radioactive ions from water.