Researchers’ patent clean water for all

Prof Jabulani Gumbo of Univen says the discovery of borehole-water defluoridation adsorbent was founded from the study conducted at the University in 2014 to 2016.

POLOKWANE – Professors from the University of Venda (Univen) patented a complete borehole-water defluoridation adsorbent that will benefit more than 400 rural communities living in arid areas.

The School of Environmental Sciences of Univen, through the support from Water Research Commission (WRC) and the National Research Foundation (NRF), has developed and patented an original groundwater treatment adsorbent which will reduce high fluoride, found mostly in borehole water, especially in rural dry areas.

The discovery of this water treatment adsorbent was founded from the study conducted at the University in 2014 to 2016 by Professor Wilson Gitari, Dr Antony Izuagie and Professor Jabulani Gumbo. According to Gumbo, this adsorbent will improve the provision of drinking water to rural African communities that rely on groundwater.

Prof Wilson Gitari of the University of Limpopo is among the trio that came up with a borehole-water deflouridation adsorbent which aims to assist communities living in arid places.

Prof Wilson Gitari of the University of Limpopo is among the trio that came up with a borehole-water deflouridation adsorbent which aims to assist communities living in arid places.

“This is a complete patent application of the University of Venda titled: ‘Defloridation Treatment of Water with Trimetal Magnesium /Cerium /Manganese Oxide Modified Diatomaceous Earth,” said Gumbo.

Gumbo explained, “Fluoride is important in the formation of teeth and bones if present in drinking water at the right concentrations, however borehole water in rural dry areas has too much fluoride ion which makes it to be of limited use due to chemical constituents such as fluoride occurring above prescribed limits.”

Rural communities rely mostly on borehole water for their daily needs and this water source is used directly by these communities without any prior treatment.

However, the borehole water can be contaminated by chemical and microbiological pollutants originating from other natural resources, human activities and onsite sanitation systems used in rural and industrial areas.

The WHO has set a guiding value of 1,5 mg/l for fluoride in drinking water while the South Africa water quality guidelines give a target range of 0,1 mg/l for domestic use depending on regional temperatures. However, several studies conducted in South Africa have discovered that the borehole water in North West, Limpopo and Northern Cape provinces contain fluoride in concentrations reaching 30 mg/l and this may require partial defluoridation.

Gumbo said, “It is increasingly becoming evident that the provision of safe and clean water through point-of-use devices is the most ideal technology for geographically-isolated communities with no centralised water treatment and distribution systems. Therefore, there was a need to develop cheap and high capacity adsorbents based on locally available materials within the community that have high fluoride in their groundwater.”

He further said the research leading to the patent developed by Environmental Remediation and Water Pollution Chemistry Group (ERWPCG) under the leadership of Prof Gitari, Dr Izuagie, in collaboration with Gumbo in the School of Environmental Sciences, sought to address the lack of high capacity adsorbents for fluoride removal in borehole water.

The work also sought to prepare an adsorbent from readily available and cheap natural material that are not toxic. The developed adsorbent will further be tested in field application using commercially available point-of-use devices to ascertain its commercial viability.

Gumbo stated that further studies are planned to ascertain its impact on common pathogens in surface and groundwater. Prof Gitari is a C3-rated researcher. He has published over 72 articles in peer-reviewed Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) accredited journals, over 100 articles in peer-reviewed conference proceedings, no reviewed conference proceedings, abstracts, technical reports to industries and invited talks.

Dr Anthony Izuagie was among a team that came up with a borehole-water defluoridation absorbent to benefit more that 400 communities living in arid areas.

Dr Anthony Izuagie was among a team that came up with a borehole-water defluoridation absorbent to benefit more that 400 communities living in arid areas.

He also holds three other patents in Acid Mine Drainage Treatment Technology and has published two book chapters. Gumbo has published 24 articles in peer-reviewed DHET accredited journals. He has 22 peer-reviewed conference proceedings and has published one book chapter, chaired national and international conferences and has been the keynote speaker at various international conferences worldwide.

endy@nmgroup.co.za

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