Washington: A new study by scientists has described how extracts from seeds of the Moringa oleifera tree can be used for water purification.
Researchers from Uppsala University, Sweden, in co-operation with The University of Botswana, carried out the study.
Flocculation of particulate impurities is a common first stage in purification of water.
This often uses addition of either aluminium or iron salts. Aluminium, particularly, has undesirable health implications.
An alternative procedure that uses a natural extract from seeds of the Moringa oleifera tree is used in Africa.
The new research describes how very small amounts of the protein from these seeds can bind strongly to surfaces and thus would cause contaminant particles to aggregate.
A co-operation with the University of Botswana where there is a long interest in exploiting natural products has led to a research project that provides important insight in to the way that protein molecules from the Moringa oleifera seeds interact, binding strongly both to each other and surfaces so as to cause aggregation in to large lumps that are readily removed from the water.
“It is nice to see how the basic interactions of molecules can play a role in solving practical problems,” said Adrian Rennie, Professor at the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Uppsala University.
"Understanding of the process may lead to further development in water purification with materials that are locally available and environmentally friendly,” he added.