Project Summary


Medical tools and equipment need disinfection before and after use. The latest technique is to treat them with steam at high temperature and pressure. This process is known as Autoclaving, and the device used is called an Autoclave. Autoclave needs heat to generate steam. Fossil fuels like wood, coal and oil or electricity are generally used for heating water and generating steam.

When I studied the autoclaves that are being used by the medical fraternity, I realised that,

1.      The present method of generating steam using fossil fuels is not eco friendly. Even electricity is not eco friendly.

2.      Most primary health-care units use disposable tools like syringes etc. Which are made of plastic and create a bigger disposal problem.

3.      A majority of the population in the third world and the developing areas live below the poverty line and have limited access to fossil fuels or electricity, thus the disinfection of medical tools is often neglected.

I designed a portable solar autoclave that will address the above problems.

My portable solar autoclave has the following three major elements.

A.      Solar Concentrator: The intensity of the solar energy incident on earth is small per unit area. Therefore, it becomes essential to develop a system that can concentrate this energy on a smaller area to make effective practical use. Early devices used parabolic lenses and mirrors for this purpose. Parabolic lenses or mirrors are very bulky and occupy very large area. Hence are not very practical. Development of Fresnel lens has solved this problem to a great extent. It is light weight and occupies a relatively small area. Furthermore, the Fresnel lenses can be made in segments and joined together during use to give the same effect of a large lens. Adding true portability to the device.

B.      Evacuated Glass Tube Steam Generator: Evacuated tubes are a common element of the present day solar water heaters. A slightly modified version is used in my design to receive the concentrated solar energy from the Fresnel lens and use it to heat water and generate steam. The special construction ensures that the heat received is not lost to conduction, or convection and the maximum amount of heat is transferred to the water.

C.      Pressure Vessel: I have used in my design, a locally available aluminium pressure cooker that is generally used for cooking food. This pressure cooker is fitted with pressure gauge, thermometer and a safety release valve, all fitted on its lid.

D.     AC Generator: The design also has the potential of running a small Sterling Engine coupled to a small dynamo and a rechargeable battery pack. This arrangement will generate enough energy to run the portable medical devices such as an Electro-Cardio-Gram (ECG) machine and such other equipment. This is not shown in my prototype sketch at this stage.

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