Low-cost, portable UV-C PPE Sterilization System


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2020-2021 Team
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Project Title
Low-cost, portable UV-C PPE Sterilization System
Design Challenge
Shortage of PPE puts health workers at risk of contracting and spreading disease. UVC light disinfects PPE and maintains its functionality. Our design of a low-cost UVC system will provide a safe, effective and accessible method to disinfect PPE.
Design Summary
We have designed a low-cost, portable UVC system that effectively and safely sterilizes Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for use in hospitals and clinics in low-resource countries. This system will help combat the shortage of clean PPE due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Our team’s focus is on making our system low-cost, easy to use, durable, and of appropriate size such that it can be transported within and between hospitals. While the Rice 360° Institute for Global Health has designed a UVC sterilization system that is able to effectively sterilize masks for reuse, this system is not ideal for low-resource settings, including smaller hospitals and clinics in rural areas. Low-resource settings pose the following constraints: (1) No access/inconsistent access to wall-power, (2) Limited hospital budget, and (3) Limited space availability due to overcrowded hospitals. In order to address these issues, our team came up with a set of design criteria for our solution: (1) Cost of components, (2) Force required to push device on wheels, (3) Lifespan of initial components in use, (4) Total time to use, (5) Volume of sterilization unit, and (6) Number of points of possible UVC exposure. Our team has successfully designed a system that consists of an arrangement of racks on which masks or other PPE can be placed, UVC bulbs placed along the walls of the enclosure that will irradiate these masks to sterilize them, and a hand crank to rotate the masks. A reflective surface ensures that all parts of each mask gets disinfected, and a user interface system notifies the user when the cycle is complete. An important part of our design is safety of the user, as UVC light is harmful if it comes into contact with skin. A safety switch and a robust enclosure that seals the sterilization system from UVC light leakage ensure user safety. Our system is low-cost by using locally available materials and limiting maintenance costs. Our system is easy to use due to a reduced level of interaction required from the user, and it is durable due to fewer complicated parts. We have completed building our final prototype and are currently performing tests on our enclosure, mask arrangement mechanism, and safety switch. We have verified via testing that we can meet the target values for all 6 of our design criteria mentioned earlier. Our team has met all of our target values with the exception of cost of components, and have made recommendations to further decrease the overall cost of our device. We have also made recommendations for future steps to improve our device, including performing additional UVC testing, and including alternative power sources.
Last Updated: 05/05/2021

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Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen
Rice University

6100 Main Street MS 390 | Houston, Texas | 77005

Phone: 713.348.OEDK


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