A seed extract from the Moringa Oleifera tree could provide a natural and inexpensive solution for water purification. Through a collaborative research project between Uppsala University, Institut Laue-Langevin in France and the NIST Center for Neutron Research in the USA has optimized the process to make the seed extract even better at removing particulates from water. The new research gives improved insight and could now be advanced for use in larger-scale water treatment plants.
The Moringa Oleifera tree, also known as the drumstick tree or the horseradish tree, is native to the Himalayas, but is also widely grown in tropical and sub-tropical areas. Drought-resistant, the fast-growing, deciduous tree loves sun and heat, as well as sandy soil. It can be grown with inexpensive irrigation techniques and is quite useful. The leaves and pods are edible and can be used to extract oil and utilized for water purification.
Research into the tree’s seed for water purification began a number of years ago at Uppsala University in collaboration with the University of Botswana. Protein from the seeds binds to surfaces, particularly pollutants, which can then be physically separated from the water. The collaborative research team has fine tuned the method, while new research reveals that protein clusters (flocs) are better at purification. The most recent study also compared the proteins from different varieties of Moringa trees from around the world.
The team is now discussing best use practices for sustainable and inexpensive water treatment and sharing their results with government agencies and public bodies, particularly in Namibia and Botswana.