New, useful feature of Moringa seeds revealed

February 24, 2015, Uppsala University

Previous studies have shown that the extracts from seeds of the Moringa oleifera tree can be used for water purification. In a new study, researchers from Uppsala University show that the Moringa seeds can also be used for separation of different materials. Separation processes are very important in mining industries and the new knowledge could contribute to reduce the needs for expensive synthetic chemicals.

Moringa trees are known as 'miracle' trees because of their many uses as food and as a source of oil.  Seeds from the trees are also used to purify .  The special properties of the protein in the seeds have been studied by a group from Uppsala University in collaboration with the Polytechnic of Namibia, Windhoek, and the Institut Laue-Langevin in Grenoble, France.

New results published in the Journal of Colloid and Interface Science suggest that Moringa seeds could be used for separation of different materials rather than just removal of all impurities.  Separation processes are very important in mining industries to remove valuable material from waste.  This further application of a natural product would reduce the needs for expensive synthetic chemicals.

Protein from crushed seeds of Moringa bind to particles in water and cause them to aggregate.  They can then be removed easily by filtration or settling.  Choosing the right quantity avoids leaving unnecessary protein in purified water.  The amount that saturates the surface is markedly less for alumina than for silica.

"The results can help us to find the optimum amount of Moringa seeds to purify water", says Dr Maja Hellsing, one of the researchers behind the study.

Experiments with detergents added to the bound protein showed that the behaviour changes for different materials.  A cationic detergent, widely used as a disinfectant, causes the protein to detach from the surface of alumina.  This discovery allows control of aggregation and gives a way to separate different materials.

"Combining the with detergents offers new ways to use this natural material in mineral industries that are important in many countries where Moringa grows well", says Professor Adrian Rennie, who led the study.

Explore further: Seeds from Moringa oleifera trees used to purify water

More information: Adrian R. Rennie, Habauka M. Kwaambwa (2015) Interaction of Moringa oleifera seed protein with a mineral surface and the influence of surfactants, Journal of Colloid and Interface Science, DOI: 10.1016/j.jcis.2015.02.033, The paper is available on open access: DOI: 10.1016/j.jcis.2015.02.033

Related Stories

Seeds from Moringa oleifera trees used to purify water

December 5, 2013

Seeds from Moringa oleifera trees can be used to purify water. Uppsala University leads a research group which has discovered that seed material can give a more efficient purification process than conventional synthetic materials ...

Seeds from the Moringa tree can be used for water purification

February 18, 2010

Pure water is a key requirement for good health and alternative cheap, safe methods are required in many countries. In a paper that has just been published in the leading American Chemical Society journal on interfaces, Langmuir, ...

'Miracle tree' may form basis for low-cost water purification

September 17, 2010

The moringa oleifera tree, often called the "miracle tree" for its potential to provide food, fuel and water in harsh environments, is the target of a new effort by three Penn State engineers to provide clean drinking water ...

Recommended for you

After a reset, Сuriosity is operating normally

February 23, 2019

NASA's Curiosity rover is busy making new discoveries on Mars. The rover has been climbing Mount Sharp since 2014 and recently reached a clay region that may offer new clues about the ancient Martian environment's potential ...

Study: With Twitter, race of the messenger matters

February 23, 2019

When NFL player Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the national anthem to protest police brutality and racial injustice, the ensuing debate took traditional and social media by storm. University of Kansas researchers have ...

Solving the jet/cocoon riddle of a gravitational wave event

February 22, 2019

An international research team including astronomers from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has combined radio telescopes from five continents to prove the existence of a narrow stream of material, ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.