The moringa oleifera is known as the “miracle tree” because it has been used in northern India and many parts of Africa for traditional medicine, food and cooking oil, a pesticide, a domestic cleaning agent and biofuel.
Moringas are extremely hardy. They grow on marginal soils, regrow after being chopped down and are one of the few trees that produce fruit during a drought.
They are native to the foothills of the Himalayas but Re widely cultivated in Africa, Central and South America, Sri Lanka, India, Malaysia and the Philippines
Research in the past has shown that its seeds can be used to clean water but the process was too expensive to use on a large scale. Now scientists led by Stephanie B. Velegol at Pennsylvania State University have developed a simple and inexpensive technique for removing disease-causing microbes and sediment from drinking water using the seeds of the tree.
To do that, they added an extract of the seed containing the positively charged Moringa protein, which binds to sediment and kills microbes, to negatively charged sand.
According to Dr Velegol, “The resulting ‘functionalized,’ or ‘f-sand,’ proved effective in capturing lab-grown E. coli and damaging their membranes. The f-sand was also able to remove sediment from water samples. The results open the possibility that f-sand can provide a simple, locally sustainable process for producing storeable drinking water.”