Archive for the ‘Water Treatment’ Category

High school student develops low-cost water filter

June 14, 2013

Trees for Life has spent over twenty years promoting the use of Moringa tree leaves as a way to reduce malnutrition worldwide. Another use of the Moringa tree is the seeds as a flocculant; the seeds, when crushed, clump together small particles and pollutants in unpottable water. Read about this young scientist who has created a low-cost water filter using Moringa tree seeds as a part of the process of filtering water.

John Roach

John Roach , NBC News
March 6, 2013 at 3:26 PM ET

Meghan Shea w border

Meghan Shea, 18, from West Chester, Penn., holds up a water filter that uses seeds from Moringa oleifera tree that releases a protein that clumps together pollutants, making it easier for charcoal and fabric to capture.

A high-school senior has built a simple water filter using a common tree seed that can effectively remove bacteria such as E. coli and other pollutants. Distributing the easy-to-follow instructions on how to build the filter to developing countries could potentially save lives, she said.

“For people who are currently drinking contaminated water and don’t have access to another (filtration) method, I think this is really a step in the right direction,” Meghan Shea, an 18-year-old student at Unionville High School from West Chester, Penn., told NBC News.

Shea built a prototype of the filter for the Intel Science Talent Search, and was selected as one of 40 finalists convening March 7 through 12 in Washington, D.C. The annual competition identifies some of the nation’s most promising young scientists and innovators.

The finalists were narrowed down from 300 semifinalists and more than 1,700 entrants from around the country. Participants in the 72-year-old competition have gone on to win seven Nobel Prizes and 11 MacArthur Foundation Fellowships, among other honors.

Tree seed filter
Shea was inspired to build her filter after reading about the seeds from the Moringa oleifera tree, which release proteins when immersed in water that cause particles to clump together. The clumps, in turn, are easier for other filters such as charcoal and fabric to capture.

“They sounded like the perfect solution for water purification in areas without access to more sophisticated resources, because the tree happens to grow in a lot of regions where potable water is very scarce,” she said.

But, as she continued to read, she realized water filters based on the seeds had yet to become widely adopted. This was largely because the existing filters based on the seeds were “far too difficult for somebody in an impoverished region to be using.”

Her solution is a filter system made out PVC piping or any other material with interlocking segments, such as widely-available bamboo. Each segment contains a filter element — in her prototype, it’s soil followed by charcoal followed by fabric.

The crushed seeds go in the top segment, which causes the pollutants to form large enough clumps for the other segments to capture, Shea explained. “It is essentially using materials that aren’t normally effective and coupling them with these seeds so they become effective,” she said.

Shea proved the effectiveness of the filter with discolored lake water and water she spiked with E. coli bacteria. It worked.

Give knowledge, not devices
There are highly-engineered filters on the market such as LifeStraw that are 99.99 percent effective at removing all pollutants, Shea acknowledges. She doubts her filter will ever be that good. Still, for people without access to higher-tech devices, she thinks her solution is “a great alternative.”

Shea aims to convince non-profit organizations currently building large-scale filtering devices in communities in need of potable water or distributing individual filters such as LifeStraw to distribute instructions on how to build her filter.

“Instead of bringing new devices,” she said, “they could be bringing knowledge and disseminating knowledge. And if they don’t already have the trees growing, they could be distributing seeds. That would be a lot cheaper than a lot of the devices currently being used.”

Shea herself is headed to college next fall where she aims to continue studying environmental sciences and pushing for her filter design to reach its full potential.

Her focus on environmental sciences is a shift from a childhood fascination with sea horses and determination from age four to pursue a career in marine biology, though Shea said she is keeping an open mind to the myriad possibilities of a career in the sciences.

“I love research,” she said. “So as long as I have a laboratory to work in and problems to solve, I know I’m going to be happy.”

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TREES FOR LIFE – 2011 MORINGA PROJECT

February 8, 2011

Sophie Oppenheimer, MS, MPH

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sophie Oppenheimer will act as Moringa research collaborations coordinator for TFL in several developing Moringa projects. Sophie will coordinate the development of three Moringa projects: (1) the study of the links between Moringa leaves and type II diabetes mitigation, (2) the study of the biosorbent removal of effluents from ground water, (3) the use of bioactive Moringa seed cake extract in goat and goat milk production.

Sophie earned her dual Master’s degrees in Public Health (Epidemiology/Giostatistics) and Food Policy and Applied nutrition from Tufts University, and her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of Colorado in Bolder. Sophie has worked with Trees for Life International since 2001. She also spent one year as a Behavior Interventionist for Inclusive Education and Community Partnership (IECP), has worked for two years as an intern with the Positive Deviance Initiative, and recently completed a program evaluation for a fuel-efficient cook stoves program in Kenya with the International and Small Group Tree Planting Program (TIST). She is interested in a variety of health issues, with particular focus on international nutrition interventions, food security, community-driven health initiatives , and behavior and social change models.

The work of Trees for Life is made possible by the generosity of individual donors. Please consider making a donation to support this important Moringa research.

Trees for Life – Moringa Update

November 6, 2010

Research continues to expand the utilization and sustainability of Moringa oleifera as a plant with amazing benefits. Trees for Life reports that in the past month three research publications continue to show the importance and diversity of the plant.   

Biosorption of Ni(II) from aqueous phase by Moringa oleifera bark,  a low cost biosorbent; D. Harikishore Kumar Reddy, D.K. V., et.al., Science Direct .

In the article abstract Moringa oleifera bark (MOB), an agricultural solid waste by-product has been developed into an effective and efficient biosorbent for the removal of Ni(II) from aqua solutions. The biosorbent was characterized by x-ray diffraction, scanning election microscopy, elemental analysis and FTIR analyases…. finding of the present study indicates that MOB can be successfully used for separation of Ni(II) aqueous solutions.

Nutritive evaluation and Effect of Moringa oleifera pod on Clastogenic Potential in the Mouse; Promkum C. Kupradinun P, Tuntipopipat S, Butryee C., PubMed.

For centuries Moringa oleifera has been consumed as a vegetable and major ingredient in healthy Thai cuisine. Previous studies have shown that Moringa pod extracts act as bifunctional inducers along with displaying antioxidant properties and also inhibiting skin papillomagenesis. This study was aimed to determine the nutritive value, and clasataogenic and anticlastogenic potentisla of Moringa oleifera pod. The study demonstrated that bMO has no clastogenicity and possesses anticlastogenic potential against clastogens, and particularly a direct-acting  in the mouse.

Foam properties and Detergent Abilities of the Saponins from Camellia oleifera; Yu-Fen Chen , et.al., International Journal of Molecular Science.

The defatted seed meal of Camellia oleifera has been used as a natural detergent and its extract is commercially utilized as a foam-stabilizing emulsifying agent. The goal of this study was to investigate the foam properties and detergent ability of the saponins from defatted seed meal. The results show that the saponins content in the defatted seed meal of C. oleifera is hight than other traditional Chinese medicines.

‘Miracle tree’ may help provide clean water to developing countries – Penn State University

September 13, 2010

University Park, Pa. — Often called the “miracle tree” for its potential to provide food, fuel and water in harsh environments, the moringa oleifera tree is at the center of a new effort by three Penn State engineers to provide clean drinking water to the developing world.

The work — funded by a year-long, $10,000 Environmental Protection Agency P3 grant — seeks to optimize a water treatment process involving the moringa seed.

“P3 – that’s people, prosperity and planet. It’s for the developing world,” said Stephanie Velegol, instructor in environmental engineering and a co-principal investigator on the grant.

Darrell Velegol, professor of chemical engineering and the grant’s principal investigator, said, “The idea behind our use of the moringa is this: the seeds of the tree contain proteins. One of them is a cationic protein, a positively-charged protein, which contains a little peptide sequence that acts like a molecular knife. So this little molecular knife goes through the bacterial cell wall and kills it, basically slitting it open. We have data showing that for one type of E. coli bacteria, the moringa proteins not only take the bacteria out, but kill the bacteria too.”

To read the complete story: http://live.psu.edu/story/48249