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The Shell Center for Sustainability's mission is to foster an interdisciplinary program of research, outreach, and education to address actions that can be taken to ensure the sustainable development of communities' living standards, interpreted broadly, to encompass all factors affecting the overall quality of life.

Solar-thermal Powered Autoclave for Rural Health Services

Doug Schuler, Professor, Jones Graduate School of Business, Rice University
Marcia O'Malley, Ph.D., Professor, Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science, Rice University
Tremayne Kaseman, Student, Mechanical Engineering, Rice University
Jean Boubour, Staff, Rice University

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Marcia O'Malley
Doug Schuler    
Jean Boubour
Project Background   

A group of Rice researchers are using their funding to develop a solar-powered device that allows medical practitioners in "off-grid" locations to sterilize medical instruments. The team includes Rice professors Doug Schuler and Marcia O'Malley, Rice ENGINEERING student Tremayne Kaseman and Rice STAFF MEMBER Jean Boubour.  

"According to the United Nations' Millennium Development Goals, the lack of energy services is a major deterrent to socio-economic development," Schuler said. "Many health practitioners in these remote settings don't have access to clean medical instruments. The unfortunate result is a number of negative health outcomes, including post-maternal mortality and other infectious conditions."

The project is a continuation of research sponsored by the SCS a few years ago. Schuler and his students developed a solar-powered cooking device, which they tested in Haiti in 2009. Schuler calls their new project a "new application" of their previous research “THAT MAY BE SCALEABLE THROUGH PRIVATE-PUBLIC-NGO PARTNERSHIPS AND IS EXPECTED TO HAVE A LARGE PUBLIC HEALTH IMPACT.” 

Final Report 

Capteur Soleil and Social Enterprise 


Renewable Energy World.Com, July 22, 1013 

New York Times, November 12, 2012 


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