Seed extract proves boon for water purification

January 19th, 2012 - 8:22 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Jan 19 (IANS) A compound extracted from the seeds of a ‘miracle tree’ could purify water cheaply in the developing world and act as a boon for a billion who don’t have access to it.

Past research showed that a protein in the seeds of Moringa oleifera, a plant grown in equatorial regions for food, traditional medicine and biofuel, can clean water, but using the approach was too expensive and complicated.

So, a team headed by Stephanie B. Velegol from the Penn State University College of Engineering sought to develop a simpler and less expensive way to utilise the seeds’ power, the journal Langmuir reports.

Velegol and colleagues explain that removing the disease-causing pathogens and sediment from drinking water requires technology not always available in rural areas of the developing world, according to a Penn statement.

They accordingly added an extract of the seed containing the positively-charged Moringa protein, which binds to sediment and kills microbes in the water, converting them to a negatively-charged sand.

This kind of sand, or ‘f-sand’, proved effective in killing harmful E. coli bacteria and removing sediment from water samples.

“The results open the possibility that…f-sand can provide a simple, locally sustainable process for producing storable drinking water,” said Velegol.

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