Researchers Combine Common Plant and Sand for Affordable Filtration

The filtration medium combines the moringa oleifera’s seed with sand to create a low-cost filtration system

Scientists develop filtration system with plant seed and sand

Researchers from Carnegie Mellon University have further refined a process that could help provide clean water to regions that face water scarcity by using proteins from the moringa oleifera plant–commonly known as the drumstick tree–and sand. The water filtration medium is being termed “f-sand.”

The process uses proteins from the moringa oleifera plant, commonly found in India and other subtropical climates, and combines it with sand filtration methods. The seed proteins are extracted and adsorbed to the surface of silica particles to create f-sand. According to Carnegie Mellon University College of Engineering, f-sand kills microorganisms and reduces turbidity.

The study, titled “Moringa oleifera Seed Protein Adsorption to Silica: Effects of Water Hardness, Fractionation, and Fatty Acid Extraction,” was published in the journal ACS Langmuir by Bob Tilton and Todd Przybycien, along with students Brittany Nordmark and Toni Bechtel, and Carnegie alumnus John Riley. 

“It’s an area where complexity could lead to failure–the more complex it is, the more ways something could go wrong,” said Tilton. “I think the bottom line is that this supports the idea that the simpler technology might be the better one.”

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