Kiwifruit and cucumber peels can be used to purify drinking water

University of Otago researcher finds use for food waste

According to researcher Risha Jasmine Nathan, who recently received her doctorate from the University of Otago, kiwifruit and cucumber peels can be used to purify drinking water.

There are win-win benefits in making constructive use of an agricultural waste product while improving water quality by removing potentially-damaging heavy metals, including lead.

According to an article on¸ Dr Nathan was delighted to be involved in studying "this revolutionary water decontamination technique".

Most people turn their kiwifruit and cucumber peels into compost or simply throw them out with the rubbish. But Indian-born Dr Nathan has spent three and a-half years studying how such simple substances can become cheap, efficient and easily available water filters for low-income populations needing cleaner drinking water.

Most recently a student in the university’s department of pharmacy and toxicology, she first discovered the concept of peels becoming purifiers during her earlier master’s dissertation research in India. She has focused her biosorption technique on the peels from apples, bananas, cucumbers, kiwifruit, oranges and potatoes. The peels were transformed into beads and sodium alginate, an extract of brown seaweed, was used to make them more efficient as biosorbents. Arsenic, cadmium, chromium, copper, mercury, lead and nickel could be removed from a cocktail solution.

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