How the Moringa can purify water

10 March 2019 | Environment

Next Thursday (14 March), the National Commission on Research, Science & Technology (NCRST) hosts a public lecture presented by Prof Habauka Kwaambwa on the evaluation of antibacterial properties of the Moringa species found in South Africa and Namibia.

The aim of the project was to evaluate the suitability of Moringa plants as both a source of antimicrobial compounds and as biosand filter for the removal of microbial pathogens in water.

Kwaambwa's research involved evaluating the antimicrobial activity of leaves, fresh pods, flowers, seeds and roots of Moringa species against bacterial strains, while developing a new technology of water and wastewater treatment that eliminates the use of chemicals, meaning that it is fully sustainable, cheap and easy-to-use for rural communities.

The latter involved developing a Moringa seed-sand biofilter for water treatment because the use of chemicals is normally expensive and has health and environmental effects associated with them.

Two prototypes of the water treatment system using Moringa seed ­powder have been developed.

Both prototypes have an elevated raw water tank (which serves as a gravitational feed tank for the system), a flocculation tank where the Moringa seed powder extract is added and a settling tank where coagulated/flocculated impurities (including bacteria), settle and the clear water either overflows or is filtered to the next tank.

The second prototype has additional features for sludge removal in the settling tank, as well as sand and carbon filter tanks at the lowest end of the process. Both sand and carbon filters are fitted with backwashing valves fed from the backwashing basin.

The water purification device that couples the filtration capabilities of sand and charcoal (both readily available) with the antimicrobial and flocculating properties of the cationic protein are found in a Moringa seed. This technology eliminates the presence of organic material in the effluent to permit long water storage without bacterial re-growth.

The event takes place at the Namibia Scientific Society at 18:00.

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