Using Sand and Moringa Oleifera Protein for a Sustainable Water Filter

EPA Grant Number: SU835509
Title: Using Sand and Moringa Oleifera Protein for a Sustainable Water Filter
Investigators: Epstein, Jillian M , Michael, John D , Macko, David , Berberich, Jason , Falatach, Rebecca
Current Investigators: Berberich, Jason , Gordon, Edward , McCall, Gretchen , Falatach, Rebecca , Rees, Thomas
Institution: Miami University
EPA Project Officer: Packard, Benjamin H
Phase: I
Project Period: August 15, 2013 through August 14, 2014
Project Amount: $14,732
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2013) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Challenge Area - Chemical Safety , P3 Challenge Area - Safe and Sustainable Water Resources , P3 Awards , Sustainable and Healthy Communities


The objective of this research is to create a continuous-flow water purification device that couples the filtration capabilities of sand with the antimicrobial and flocculating properties of the cationic protein found in a Moringa oleifera seed. This point-of-use filter will be designed to treat 20 liters of water per day, and will only require the use of ordinary sand, Moringa seeds, and concrete (or plastic if readily available). This will ensure that the filter is fully sustainable in developing communities throughout equatorial regions. The filter will be designed to reduce the presence of organic material in the filter’s effluent to permit water storage without bacterial re-growth. The team will work closely with Engineers Without Borders at Miami University to incorporate Moringa-functionalized sand filters in a small developing community in the Chaguarpamba, Ecuador canton.


A multi-disciplinary student team from Engineers Without Borders at Miami University will conduct this study. Our technical approach is to irreversibly bind the Moringa water clarifying protein to sand, wash away excess organic material with water, and use the Moringa-functionalized sand as a packing material in a continuous-flow water filter. During the design phase, we will also consider a range of socio-cultural, economic, and environmental inputs to ensure the filter’s long-term viability in the developing world. We will then utilize existing contacts in a developing community in Ecuador to introduce this technology to the women and key community leaders.

Expected Results:

This design will have a significant impact on people throughout developing equatorial regions by reducing their exposure to water borne pathogens. Reducing water-borne illnesses will improve people’s health to allow them to build prosperity within their communities. The implementation of Moringa-functionalized sand filters will promote a sustainable planet since the Moringa seeds are renewable, degrade naturally, and are non-toxic.

Supplemental Keywords:

Antimicrobial protein, drinking water, water purification, pathogen removal, potable water, developing country;

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report