Our project utilized readily available local materials- coconut (Cocus nocifera) husk and costus plant (Costus afer), to purify water for domestic purposes. The fibers of coconut and Costus afer plants were used to purify dirty/impure water obtained from shallow wells from Etim Ekpo Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria. The purification process was more efficient when the fibres from the coconut plant were placed between the leaf fibres and the stem fibres of the Costus afer. This was because the coconut fibers removed the chlorophyll from Costus afer leaves. The filtrate has a characteristic colourless nature due to the fibers ability to absorb metals with the hydroxyl group (OH) present in them.This is how I came up with the idea for this project:
Our project utilized readily available local materials- coconut (Cocus nocifera) husk and costus plant (Costus afer), to purify water for domestic purposes. The fibers of coconut and Costus afer plants were used to purify dirty/impure water obtained from shallow wells from Etim Ekpo Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria. The purification process was more efficient when the fibres from the coconut plant were placed between the leaf fibres and the stem fibres of the Costus afer. This was because the coconut fibers removed the chlorophyll from Costus afer leaves. The filtrate has a characteristic colourless nature due to the fibers ability to absorb metals with the hydroxyl group (OH) present in them. This project could be scaled-up for use in community water treatment.Water purification using natural plant fibers
1.0 INTRODUCTION Water is one of the most essential substances to all living things on earth. It is a good solvent for many substances. It has diverse applications and almost chemical, industrial, domestic, biological, agricultural and recreational activities takes place in the presence of water at high, low or even trace quantities. However, water rarely occurs in its pure form in nature [1,]. The interaction of man with the natural environment and the quest for man to attain a higher standard of living often result in the degradation of the environment of which water in an integral part [2, 3]. Water is said to be polluted when it contains foreign bodies or contaminants at a level where it becomes nuisance to life and will not comply with the standards set up by the consumer quality standards which may differ from one country to another [4,5]. Water pollutants change the quality of water and alter the composition of water. Water pollution can be caused by naturatural sources or man-made or anthropogenic sources. Polluted water is always treated to make it fit for intended use. In the process the water is purified. Water purification include: coagulation, sedimentation, filtration and disinfection. The water purification process in this project is by filtration via ion exchange process using plant fibres. The dried coconut fruit has a lot of long fibers. The coconut fibers are commonly used as local filters. The coconut fibers when ground is also used as adsorbents. On the other hand Costus afer which is commonly found is a rhizomatous perennial herb which grows up to four meters tall. This plant which is abundant in the tropical West Africa and Southern African countries such as Tanzania, Malawi and Angola. It has a lot of medicinal uses. The dried stems of Costus afer are also used in local furniture making e.g baskets and mats. The liquid part of the plant (sap) can be chewed to quench thirst and chemically applied to coagulate latex [6,7,8]. The plant has been experimented in paper making and the sap is also used to alleviate from nausea. Emphasis has been placed on the application of part of Costus afer as a medicinal agent and there is no evidence study has been carried out on the application of the plant for water purification purposes. A mixture of the powdered coconut fibers and the fibers from the debarked Costus afer stems as well as the leaves is a potential means of water purification. 1.1 OBJECTIVES The objective of this project is to purify dirty water using natural fibers from a mixture of ground coconut fruits and fibers from Costus afer plant. Treated dirty water can be used for diverse purposes. 2.0 MATERIALS AND METHODS The active materials used in this project are the fibres from coconut and Costus afer. Coconut and Costus afer both have natural water purification capabilities. Coconut absorbs soil water, purifies and mixes it with internaly synthesized glucose to produce the coconut juice stored in the fruits. On the other hand Costus afer absorbs soil water purifies it and stores it in its stem. Both plants have enormous celluleric fibres. Some plants have been employed to remove some metals from water. This process is known as phytoremediation. 2.1 SAMPLE PREPARATION/ PRODUCTION OF FILTRATION MATERIALS The coconut fibres used in this project are the fibres/husk surrounding the coconut seed. The husks are removed and washed several times to produce the fibres then dried. The dried fibres are cut into small pieces (chippings) and blended using an electric blender or manual blender. The fibres produced are collected and stored in a clean container. On the other hand the Costus afer plant is cut from a nearby bush, washed and debarked. The debarked stem is also cut into small pieces and blended using an electric blender or manual blender. The wet fibers produces is washed several times with water to remove the chlorophyll. The resultant fibre is also stored in a clean container. The leave fibers are obtained by removing the leaves from the stem, cutting the leaves into small pieces blended and washed to produce the leaf fibers. Plate 1 Coconut tree with fruits Plate 2 Costus afer plant 2.2 WATER PURIFICATION/FILTRATION A dirty water prepared by mixing soil with water is passed through a filteration column of the fibers. (the column has the cotton wool at the base of column followed by the Costus afer stem fibers coconut fibers and then the Costus afer leaf fibers). Fig 1. The dirty comes out clean and clear from the bottom of the column. The process is optimized at lower temperature. The filtrate from the column is re-filtered for a cleaner water. Chemistry of the purification process. Fibers are cellulosic substances. Cellulose is a large polymeric carbohydrate with many hydroxyl (-OH) groups. Cellulose The purification process proceeds via ion exchange mechanism between the OH of the cellulose in the fibres with metallic ions and organic group as impurities from the dirty water. + YOH + H2O Where Y = Metallic ions or organic groups in impure water 3.0 RESULT The final filtrate obtained is a clean water which is used for laundry. 4.0 CONCLUSION A blend of a ground mixture of coconut fibres and Costus afer fibres is a good filtration material for impure water. This method is environmental friendly, cheap and easily generated by the cultivation of the plants. 5.0 MATERIAL CONSULTED 1 Ababio, O. Y. (2013). New School Chemistry. Ibadan : Africana FEP Publishers. 2. Ibok, U, J., Udosen, E. D. and Udoidiong, O. M. (1989). Heavy metals in fishes from some streams in Ikot Ekpene Area of Nigeria. Nigerian Journal of Technological Research, 1, 61-.68. 3. Nair, I. V., Singh, K., Arumugam, M., and Clarson, D. (2010). Monitoring of trace metal pollution in Meenachil river at Kotayam, Keralla, India. E. Journal of Chemistry, 8(1), 257- 263. 4. Udoessien, E. I. (2003). Basic Principles of Environmental Science. Uyo: Etiliew International Publishers, 339pp. 5. Udosen, E. D. (2015). Concepts in environmental chemistry. Nigeria: Anikzo Global Ventures. 6. Akpabio, U. D., Umoren S. A and Udoudo, A. J (2004). Conversion of Agricultural waste into cellulose derivatives. Bulletin of Pure and Applied Science, 23(3): 9-13. 7. Odoemena, C. S. and Ekanem, N. G. (2006). Nutraceutical potentials of Costus afer (Ker Gawl) plant. Journal of Science and Technology, 5(2): 51-54. 8. http//tropical.theferns.viewtropical php?id = Costus afer.