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Saturday, February 27, 2010

Purify water with seeds

In many parts of the world, obtaining clean drinking water is a daily struggle. As many as a billion people may lack access to clean water. Modern purification methods are often too expensive for the poorest communities to implement. For this reason, simpler and cheaper water purification methods are in great need. Habauka Kwaambwa of the University of Botswana and his colleagues have found a novel first step in water purification.

Before water can be drunk, it must go through several stages of purification. The first step, flocculation, removes large particulates from the water. Later steps include filtration and disinfection. Aluminum or iron salts are commonly used for flocculation, but Kwaambwa has found that extracts from Moringa oleifera tree seeds can work just as well.

Moringa oleifera trees are native to India, but cultivated in Africa, South America and many other parts of the world. Almost every part of them can be eaten or used in some manner. Now, they may even play an important role in water purification.

Moringa oleifera tree cultivated in village of Antanimieva, southwestern Madagascar, taken by Mark E. Olsen, 1998.