Motivated by the proposed use of cationic protein-modified sand for water filtration in developing nations, this study concerns the adsorption of Moringa oleifera seed proteins to silica surfaces. These proteins were prepared in model waters of varying hardness and underwent different levels of fractionation, including fatty acid extraction and cation exchange chromatography. Adsorption isotherms were measured by ellipsometry, and the zeta potentials of the resulting protein-decorated surfaces were measured by the rotating disk streaming potential method. The results indicate that the presence of fatty acids has little effect on the M. oleifera cationic protein adsorption isotherm. Adsorption from the unfractionated extract was indistinguishable from that of the cationic protein isolates at low concentrations but yielded significantly greater extents of adsorption at high concentrations. Adsorption isotherms for samples prepared in model hard and soft fresh waters were indistinguishable from each other over the measured bulk solution concentration range, but adsorption from hard or soft water was more extensive than adsorption from deionized water at moderate protein concentrations. Streaming potential measurements showed that adsorption reversed the net sign of the zeta potential of silica from negative to positive for all protein fractions and water hardness conditions at protein bulk concentrations as low as 0.03 μg/mL. This suggests that sands can be effectively modified with M. oleifera proteins using small amounts of seed extract under various local water hardness conditions. Finally, ellipsometry indicated that M. oleifera proteins adsorb irreversibly with respect to rinsing in these model fresh waters, suggesting that the modified sand would be stable on repeated use for water filtration. These studies may aid in the design of a simple, effective, and sustainable water purification device for developing nations.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- General Materials Science
- Condensed Matter Physics
- Surfaces and Interfaces