Proper medical care beyond disposable syringes requires sterilization of equipment and treatment of dangerous biological waste, but autoclaves that use high pressure steam can be expensive and require a good deal of power to operate.
A team of engineers at Rice University have developed their own autoclave that requires only sunlight to power, and can be used in many low resource areas of the world. The system isn’t just a light focusing mirror, but actually relies on special nanoparticles developed at Rice that are very efficient in turning light into heat, creating the high temperature and pressure needed inside the autoclave. These nanoparticles are mixed with the water that’s injected into the device and anything else that’s placed inside gets proper sterilization.
Here’s a Rice video with the lead researchers discussing the technology:
Article in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences: Compact solar autoclave based on steam generation using broadband light-harvesting nanoparticles
Announcement: Off-grid sterilization with Rice U.’s ‘solar steam’