By Tanvi Vaghjiani

In 2002, a Japanese Company established in 1993 founded Nippon PolyGlu Co. which uses a material called PolyGlu in order to purify contaminated water. PolyGlu is a flocculant that has both organic and inorganic characteristics and is produced from polyglutamic acid (PGA), an amino acid, which is water-soluble, biodegradable and edible. The material is responsible for the stickiness of a Japanese food called ‘natto’ made from fermented soybeans. Furthermore, the Japanese company have also produced a self-contained tank which helps filter water at large quantities. 

The impurities in the water are made up of negatively charged particles that repel one another, and the process of flocculation occurs with the addition of PolyGlu, which is scientifically known as PGα21Ca, where the tendency of the particles to repel is disrupted and separate from the water. These particles form loose aggregations, or ‘floc’, which settles to the bottom of the water.

Here is a video to demonstrate how PolyGlu works: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EezhtDt9p0Q

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The impacts of this product have been greatly significant as only one gram of this powder can treat up to approximately 5-10 litres of polluted water, depending on the cloudiness of the water source. Additionally, it can be used to purify water with varying acidity levels and temperatures. However, the water needs to be disinfected before being able to drink.

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cases in which it has already been used

PolyGlu company initiated a drinking water project that began in Bangladesh where the monthly charge of purified water was $1 per family using 10L/day and $2 per family using 20L/day. A water treatment plant was added produced from local materials by local people purifying around 10-100 tons of water. The quality of treated water is tested by the local government and research institutes for cholera and diarrhoea to ensure safe drinking.

Nippon PolyGlu has also been successfully used in many other countries with water-borne diseases such as Somalia and India. In the capital of Somalia, Mogadishu, it was widely used with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Japan International Co-operation Agency (JICA). According to the locals, the substance has helped lower the incidence of illnesses and diarrhoea among children of Somalis who fled their hometowns to escape famine.  This product has had a positive impact and continues to be used to aid areas with water scarcity globally.