Moringa oleifera is a pan tropical, multipurpose tree whose seeds contain a high quality edible oil (up to 40% by weight) and water soluble proteins that act as effective coagulants for water and wastewater treatment. The use of this natural coagulant material has not yet realised its potential. A water extract of M. oleifera seed was applied to a wastewater treatment sequence comprising coagulation–flocculation–sedimentation–sand filtration. The study was laboratory based using an actual wastewater. Overall COD removals of 50% were achieved at both 50 and 100 mg/l M. oleifera doses. When 50 and 100 mg/l seed doses were applied in combination with 10 mg/l of alum, COD removal increased to 58 and 64%, respectively. The majority of COD removal occurred during the filtration process. In the tests incorporating alum, sludge generation and filter head loss increased by factors of 3 and 2, respectively. These encouraging treatment results indicate that this may be the first treatment application that can move to large scale adoption. The simple water extract may be obtained at minimal cost from the presscake residue remaining after oil extraction from the seed. The regulatory compliance issues of adopting ‘new materials’ for wastewater treatment are significantly less stringent than those applying to the production of potable water
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