Researchers claim that a seed from an Indian tree could bring water to millions of people around the world. A researcher Stephanie Velegol, used sand and plant materials proteins from the Moringa Oleifera, a tree native to India and created a cheap and effective water filtration medium, termed “f-sand”.
The tree is primarily cultivated for food and natural oils, and the seeds are already in use for a type of rudimentary water purification. However, this traditional means of purification leaves behind high amounts of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) from the seeds, allowing bacteria to regrow after just 24 hours. Velegol extracted the seed proteins and adsorbed (adhering) them to the surface of silica particles, the principal component of sand, and that’s how f-sand was created.
F-sand both kills microorganisms and reduces turbidity, adhering to particulate and organic matter. These undesirable contaminants and DOC can then be washed out, leaving the water clean for longer period of time and the f-sand ready for reuse.
Fractionating the eight different proteins from the seed of Moringa Oleifera proteins had little effect on the proteins’ ability to adsorb to the silica particles, meaning this step was unnecessary to the f-sand creation process.
One of the major reasons Moringa Oleifera is cultivated currently is for the fatty acids and oils found in the seeds, these are extracted and sold commercially. Another finding revealed that much like fractionation, removing the fatty acids had little effect on the ability of the proteins to adsorb. This finding is beneficial for developing regions. The presence or absence of fatty acids in the seeds has little effect on the creation or function of f-sand
The necessary concentration has a major impact on the amount of seeds required, which in turn has a direct effect on overall efficiency and cost effectiveness. The researchers found that proteins were able to adsorb well to the silica particles, and to coagulate suspended contaminants, in both soft and hard water conditions. This means that the process could potentially be viable across a wide array of regions, regardless of water hardness. Overall, the conclusions that the researchers were able to reach were in regard to the benefit of the developing countries, who are looking for a cheaper and easily accessible means of water purification.