Pennsylvania State University’s Stephanie Velegol announced the development through a podcast on the American Chemical Society’s website.
The drumstick tree, or Moringa oleifera, was earlier discovered to be able to cleanse water.
But one of the processes initially developed was too costly to use on a large scale, while another left water drinkable for only a short period of time.
But Velegol found that by extracting a protein from the seeds that kills microbes, then combining it with negatively charged sand, those problems were solved.
The resulting byproduct can kill pathogens as dangerous as E. coli and remove sediment from the water, says Velegol.
Access to clean drinking water is one of the greatest challenges to preventing disease in developing countries around the world.
The ability to grow the miracle tree locally and use its seeds to clean water could greatly alleviate that problem.