Research Grants/Fellowships/SBIR

Harvesting Potable and Storable Water with Moringa Seeds and Sand

EPA Grant Number: SU834740
Title: Harvesting Potable and Storable Water with Moringa Seeds and Sand
Investigators: Velegol, Darrell , Schuhmann, Richard , Velegol, Stephanie B
Current Investigators: Velegol, Darrell , Kaley, Bradley , McCollough, Lauren , Paskewicz, Mary , Schuhmann, Richard , Smith, Eric , Tzonev, Tzonu , Velegol, Stephanie B
Institution: Pennsylvania State University
EPA Project Officer: Nolt-Helms, Cynthia
Project Period: August 15, 2010 through August 14, 2011
Project Amount: $10,000
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2010) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Challenge Area - Agriculture , P3 Challenge Area - Water , P3 Awards , Sustainability


We propose to design and implement a point-of-use process for water purification and storage in developing nations. Our research innovates on an existing technique for purifying water with seeds from the Moringa oleifera (Moringa) tree. Mixing water with crushed Moringa seeds clarifies and disinfects water; however, a critical challenge exists: Crushed Moringa seed leaves proteins and organics in water that bacteria use for food, and so the purified water cannot be stored. Therefore, the purification must be done daily, which is difficult and often not done.


The research involves two objectives: 1) We will optimize our treatment process in the laboratory, using experiments to assess the amount of seed required, the mixing type and time, and required alternatives for local conditions. 2) We will design, build and implement the process. We will work in collaboration with the EPA and Department of Health in Puerto Rico to incorporate our water purification process into certain communities where clean water is not available. Students working on this project will be enrolled in our Penn State CE 497D course.


Our technical approach is simple: To treat 20 liters/day of water requires only a bucket, ordinary sand, and seeds from the Moringa oleifera (Moringa) tree – which often exists already in targeted locations. By a) coating the protein onto sand, b) allowing the sand to mix with water, and c) letting the coated sand settle out, we clarify and disinfect the water without leaving dissolved organics. The sand is then ready for re-use. The impact on PEOPLE will be to free them from daily water purification – or diarrhea – giving more time to build PROSPERITY. Since Moringa seed degrades naturally, and the spent sand is easily regenerated in sunlight, not only is no footprint left, but the additional Moringa trees improve the PLANET and provide a source of prosperity. Therefore, the process is locally viable, culturally acceptable, and fully sustainable.

Expected Results:

Our process will enable people in equatorial lands to produce potable water, moving them beyond having water-borne diseases as part of their usual daily life. Our process will provide a route to controlling water pollution – natural or man-made – while building increased prosperity in a sustainable manner.

Supplemental Keywords:

Potable water, availability, access, low energy use, water management, drinking water, water purification technologies, drinking water treatment technologies, pathogen removal, land use, holistic design,

Progress and Final Reports:
Final Report