Date Farming Waste Could Clean Up Contaminated Water

Date farmers in Oman could be in possession of a special material that could be used to remove pharmaceutical chemicals and dyes from hospital wastewater. Releasing contaminated water into municipal sewer systems can be detrimental to the local water supply, so for the past few years, researchers at Sultan Qaboos University (SQU) have been looking for an affordable way to establish a hospital wastewater treatment unit.

Recent developments suggest that a locally available material, date palm leaves, could be the inexpensive answer to this long-standing problem. If successful, the result could be a greener alternative to ‘activated carbon‘, which is the current standard in water filtration.

date palms, water filtration, water treatment

Image via tombothetombinator/Flickr

The team has been working to produce ‘dehydrated carbon’ from the date leaves in the hopes that they can eliminate the energy-intensive and highly-polluting process that’s used to create typical carbon filtration systems. In the new process, waste leaves are carbonised by sulphuric acid treatment at 170 degrees Celsius, before being used to treat wastewater.

We have found that dehydrated carbon produced from date palm leaves is as efficient as activated carbon for removing pharmaceuticals and dyes from wastewater,” El-Said El-Shafey, the project’s principal researcher and an assistant chemistry professor at SQU, tells SciDev.Net. “Date palm dehydrated carbon was also extraordinary in removing heavy metals and can be reused many times,” he adds.

Researchers hope this technique could be used across most of the Middle East and North Africa, particularly in Oman, where 180,000 tonnes of date palm leaves are produced and thrown away annually.

Beth Buczynski is a freelancer writer and editor currently living in the Rocky Mountain West. Her articles appear on Care2, Ecosalon and Inhabitat, just to name a few. So far, Beth has lived in or near three major U.S. mountain ranges, and is passionate about protecting the important ecosystems they represent. Follow Beth on Twitter as @ecosphericblog


  • Reply December 9, 2012

    Anjum Husain

    what a wonderful way to save the planet….

  • Reply December 11, 2012

    Sean Ahner

    It was a really good thing that we have a ways that can protects our nature and environment mostly in our waters.

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