MIT team creates sun-powered autoclave to sterilize medical instruments in rural clinics

MIT solarclave

After recognizing the need for a portable, self-powered sterilizing system for medical facilities in rural regions of the world, the Little Devices Group at MIT have come up with SolarClave – a solar-powered autoclave systems that can heat medical equipment to sterilizing temperature without needing electricity or any other kind of fuel.

The team states that on a sunny day, the system takes about 45 minutes to heat up to a sterilizing temperature and 20 minutes to carry about the sterilization cycle. The system has been designed in a way that most of its parts can easily be replaced if broken and can be sourced locally. While an earlier prototype used a boiler suspended over a foil-covered reflector with tubing present to carry steam from the boiler to the sterilizing vessel, its use revealed the design’s inherent problems, like damage to the foil, which was hard to replace in a remote location.

The new system features a more robust design and does not come with any steam carrying tubes. On the other hand, the system is just a collection of pocket sized mirrors which focuses sunlight on a pressure cooker suspended on the reflector, in which the tools to be sterilized are placed.

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