2020 | Bangladesh | Adittya Kumar Chowdhury, Iftekhar Khaled

Using naturally derived poly glutamic acid in association with Moringa oleifera seeds as a coagulant for treating water

Water issue adressed: Too dirty
Collection of water from Dhanmondi lake which is dirty but still people are taking bath in it

Bangladesh has been currently undergoing some massive economic changes and the river bodies are being affected through pollution. Unethical practices are typically not taken into account and the rise in economic growth translates to more industries, which is good for the economy but bad for the water bodies.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), of the 97% of the population having access to water, about 60% of the population is yet to have access to safe drinking water1. Furthermore, a World Bank report suggests the fact that about 41% of all improved water sources are actually contaminated with various bacteria2. Moreover, another study claims that in the average turbidity in river bodies around Bangladesh are 8018 mg/L. However, the maximum allowed turbidity for drinking water is roughly 10 NTU.
In the current system, in order to tackle such issues, people resort to many types of water purification measures. With about 63.37% of the total population living in rural areas17 for people living in rural areas and at a poverty rate of 24.3%18, expensive purification means like reverse osmosis is not an option for them. So the most common alternative they tend to use is alum or potassium aluminium sulphate KAl(SO4)2.12H2O [34] However, using aluminium sulphate comes with its health concerns. The primary concern with alum is that the long-term exposure to low levels of the chemical can cause degeneration of nervous system tissue. Alum has to be manufactured which is complex whereas our method uses household items to purify water.
Therefore, the best solution would be using a flocculant which can be made naturally and can perform successful flocculation by precipitation of all suspended particles.
Our proposed solution to the problem would be the implementation of using naturally produced poly glutamic acid in combination with moringa oleifera seeds in order to perform flocculation and the reasons why they complement each other are further described in the Mechanism section. The added benefit of using the seeds is that they have shown anti-bacterial properties14. Poly glutamic acid can be produced by fermenting soybean7 with bacteria called bacillus subtilis which is available in rice straws8. This gives us an upper hand since moringa oleifera is abundant in the tropical region9. Soybeans are usually used to make oil and thereby after removing fatty acids from soybean oil, the soybeans are disposed of. Being an agricultural rice-producing country also allows us access to great amounts of rice straw since it is a waste product and using two waste products is surely economical. More importantly, both the soybean and moringa oleifera seed is classified as agricultural waste products thereby, are typically discarded. Our solution is unique. This is because our solution is cheap and attained from agricultural bi-products. The solution can be mass-produced and it is sustainable for the foreseeable future.

Project video

This is how I came up with the idea for this project:

The current methods of water purification were expensive and unsustainable. We dived deep into the basic characteristics of flocculation and developed a way to make a new flocculant with the catch being that it has to be made from natural and biodegradable materials while also being cheap and affordable.