A New Technique to Purify River Water for Use in Rural Communities

  • varkey
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A New Technique to Purify River Water for Use in Rural Communities

I have developed a new technique to purify river water into clean drinking water using an oligodynamic (antibacterial) metal as a disinfectant and moringa seed powder as a coagulant for clarification. Use of natural materials to clarify water is a technique that has been practiced for centuries in different parts of the world among which moringa seed is the most effective in removing suspended particles from turbid water by coagulation and sedimentation. However the seeds do not have antibacterial property to destroy pathogens like E.coli to produce clean drinking water for domestic use. Metals like copper and silver are known for their antibacterial activity, but there seems to be no attempts made to use them as disinfectants for water purification. They do not have the ability to clarify water. In this work, clarification by moringa seed powder and disinfection by copper are incorporated in a process to purify river water into potable water. The method is quite simple and effective. All domestic water quality parameters (items and values are available) tested for treated water, including turbidity and E.coli levels, are within the accepted EPA/WHO guidelines.
Some other features are:
- No alum, no chlorine, and no other chemical added.
- Easily adaptable in rural households, can be done in a normal village kitchen with minimum facilities.
- No technical assistance needed for operation.
- Do not need electricity to operate.
- No restriction on the amount of water that can be treated.
- No maintenance cost.
- The only consumable is moringa seed which is available in many parts of the world at a very low cost. Copper is re-usable.
- Being Stand-alone system it is useful in emergency situations such as cyclone or floods.

Comments/questions/suggestions are welcome. Technical details of the procedure can be provided.

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  • alainfressanges
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Re: A New Technique to Purify River Water for Use in Rural Communities

Hi Joseph Varkey

The Cambodian NGO Khmer Community Development (KCD) works in communes located along the Bassac River (an arm of the Mekong River that flows from Phnom Penh to the south, builds the border with Vietnam on 10 km and and distributes its waters into the Mekong Delta).

Although the Kandal province (that surrounds Phnom Penh and share its southern border with Vietnam) is well irrigated and was equipped with hundreds of deep wells, at the end of the dry season (April to June), the lack of drinking water is an issue, as the groundwater is polluted with arsenic.

We would like to know more about your system, and how to replicate it on either household or community level.

Kind regards
Alain Fressanges
Senior adviser at KCD
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  • varkey
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Re: A New Technique to Purify River Water for Use in Rural Communities

Thank you.
As I mentioned in my post, the method uses moringa seed powder to clarify,
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and copper to disinfect raw river water into potable water.
I have not checked its viability to remove arsenic since river water in our areas do not contain it. Please see attched Table showing the parameters the method can control. You are welcome for any further clarification/comments.
Dr Joseph Varkey

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  • alainfressanges
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Re: A New Technique to Purify River Water for Use in Rural Communities

Thanks a lot for your prompt answer

I'm not an expert and can't draw informed conclusions from the table, however, it seems that your system increases (though to a negligible extent) the acidity of the water.
The only striking improvements are about colour, turbidity and E.coli.
Where did you take the river water sample from?

The only way to know if any river water can be efficiently treated is to test your system under local conditions: is it feasible?

Alain Fressanges
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  • varkey
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Re: A New Technique to Purify River Water for Use in Rural Communities

Thanks for the comments.
Yes it is feasible to test the method under local conditions using water from a river.
I attach some guidelines on how to proceed.
Also note that this method is ideal for domestic use and not for community level without some modifications.
Being PoU it can be helpful in disaster areas.
Any more comments/questions are welcome.
Regards,
Dr Varkey

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  • SamOricha
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Re: A New Technique to Purify River Water for Use in Rural Communities

Nice work

#Technical details of the procedure can be provided. Kindly share pls (On this platform for the benefit of all who might want to applied & test this your research)
Also, the said attached guideline can it be applied at a community base level?
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  • varkey
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Re: A New Technique to Purify River Water for Use in Rural Communities

Thanks for the enquiry. Given below is a very short summary of the methodoly.

Water purification using Moringa seeds and Copper

A Short Summary of the Methodology to purify one litre turbid river water

Moringa seeds are shelled, ground in an electric grinder (or kitchen mortar) and sieved using a sieve (0.8 mm) to obtain its powder. Raw river water is filtered using a cotton cloth to remove any large particles suspended in it. Take 1 L raw water and sprinkle 0.25 g of the seed powder and stir vigorously for 20-25 seconds. Take clean copper wire (in the experiment, a piece of wire 1.0 mm diameter, 50.0 cm long was used) in the form of a coil or mesh, immerse it in the water and leave it standing undisturbed. Coagulation and sedimentation of suspended particles takes place slowly. Cationic protein in the seeds clears turbid water and copper kills bacteria present in it. After nearly 4 hours decant the supernatant through a fine mesh cotton cloth and test for quality. Turbidity can be 3-5 NTU depending on the initial value and E.coli count becomes N.D. (< 1 MPN/100 ml).
Any query/comment will be answered asap. Need further details? Please reply. If any one carries it out, please, may I have the results.
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  • F H Mughal
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Re: A New Technique to Purify River Water for Use in Rural Communities

Dear Dr Varkey,

Your technique is interesting. Do you have a video of your system?

You say: Moringa seeds are shelled, ground in an electric grinder (or kitchen mortar) and sieved using a sieve (0.8 mm) to obtain its powder.
Can you post a photograph of seeds in their raw form, and after they become powder?

Indus River and canal here contain toxic elements (nickel, lead, mercury, cadmium, chromium, etc). Will you system remove these constituents. How can one design a continuous system of, say, 10 liters/hour?

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F H Mughal

F H Mughal (Mr.)
Karachi, Pakistan
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  • varkey
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Re: A New Technique to Purify River Water for Use in Rural Communities

Thank you.
I do not have a video, but I attach a few photos instead.
I had a suggestion to see if this method can eliminate arsenic from river water, a serious problem affecting some parts of India and Bangladesh in particular. River water which I use has only insignificant amount of arsenic. So did not check it and I have no source of water with arsenic. Also I have not checked the other metals mentioned. However, there is a possibility that moringa seeds might be able to eliminate heavy metals by biosorption which can be looked into. I can collaborate with interested individuals or research groups on this.
Due to the many nutritional elements present in moringa seeds, I am doing a nutritional analysis of the treated water to compare it with normal drinking water.
Coming to the issue of a design for larger output:
Coagulation, flocculation and sedimentation are natural processes; I don’t think we can speed up the process for larger output unless by adding other reaction agents which might introduce contaminants into treated water. Also it makes the process more complex, spoiling its basic purpose of helping rural homesteads to manage their own drinking water. The solution could be to increase in the number or size of the containers.
I have made an improvement by replacing copper wire with copper pot. For obvious reasons it makes the process simpler and bacterial inactivation faster. Just pour raw water into a copper pot (or copper coated pot), add 0.25 g/L moringa seed powder and stir. Decant the supernatant through a cloth and use! Please see photos attached. They are specific examples .
Any question /suggestion for improvement / further investigation are welcome.

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  • F H Mughal
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Re: A New Technique to Purify River Water for Use in Rural Communities

Your point of replacing copper wire with copper pot is interesting. Please have a look at this link on copper pots:

www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3312355/

The abstract reads:

Microbially-unsafe water is still a major concern in most developing countries. Although many water-purification methods exist, these are expensive and beyond the reach of many people, especially in rural areas. Ayurveda recommends the use of copper for storing drinking-water. Therefore, the objective of this study was to evaluate the effect of copper pot on microbially-contaminated drinking-water. The antibacterial effect of copper pot against important diarrhoeagenic bacteria, including Vibrio cholerae O1, Shigella flexneri 2a, enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli, enteropathogenic E. coli, Salmonella enterica Typhi, and Salmonella Paratyphi is reported. When drinking-water (pH 7.83±0.4; source: ground) was contaminated with 500 CFU/mL of the above bacteria and stored in copper pots for 16 hours at room temperature, no bacteria could be recovered on the culture medium. Recovery failed even after resuscitation in enrichment broth, followed by plating on selective media, indicating loss of culturability. This is the first report on the effect of copper on S. flexneri 2a, enteropathogenic E. coli, and Salmonella Paratyphi. After 16 hours, there was a slight increase in the pH of water from 7.83 to 7.93 in the copper pots while the other physicochemical parameters remained unchanged. Copper content (177±16 ppb) in water stored in copper pots was well within the permissible limits of the World Health Organization. Copper holds promise as a point-of-use solution for microbial purification of drinking-water, especially in developing countries.

F H Mughal

F H Mughal (Mr.)
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Re: A New Technique to Purify River Water for Use in Rural Communities

This paper might interest you:

Indigenous plants for informal greywater treatment and reuse by some households in Ghana

It is available at:

jwrd.iwaponline.com/content/ppiwajwrd/ea...rd.2018.061.full.pdf

A portion of the abstract says:

A total of 1,259 plant groups were identified which belonged to 36 different plant species. The top five indigenous plants used are sugarcane, banana/plantain, taro, sweet/wild basil, and dandelion. The major plant benefits identified were food (84% of respondents) and medicine (62% of respondents). Statistically, no association was identified between the numbers of plants grown and their perceived plant roles (χ2 ¼ 6.022, p ¼ 0.304), with the exception of an association between plant numbers and benefits (χ2 ¼ 161.94, p < 0.001). There is demand for improving local practices of using plants in greywater treatment and reuse, since native plants also come with other benefits.

F H Mughal

F H Mughal (Mr.)
Karachi, Pakistan
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  • alainfressanges
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Re: A New Technique to Purify River Water for Use in Rural Communities

Thank you for those pictures that help better understand your method.
One last point would be to know how to measure 0.25 g of moringa seed powder: is it a pinch? the half or quarter of a tea spoon?

Alain Fressanges
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