GVSU engineers produce life-saving, solar-powered surgical generator
Patrick Center February 13, 2013 | WGVU
That’s what life-saving power sounds like when the lights go out.
For the past 15 years, Dr. Martha Sommers has been performing surgeries in Malawi, Africa. The outcome often determined by what Americans take for granted.
“When she came to us she said she has lost people on the operating table because they do not have lights.”
Ryan Gorby is a Grad student and design engineer at Grand Valley’s engineering school. He explains how in third world countries power supply is random and thieves often siphon diesel from backup generators.
“So this will allow them to have the critical needs for lighting and then the suction machine to get rid of the fluids and stuff as they’re doing surgeries.”
“It takes about two days with the sun conditions in Malawi to charge and it provides about two days of use.”
That’s project engineer Derek Dougherty.
“It has a solar cell that is used to charge AGM batteries which is very similar to what you would see in your car.“
But these small batteries can handle a larger workload. The photo cell powering them is a thin two by three foot surface. The entire system weighs about 80 pounds making it portable.
Engineering professor and project supervisor, Heidi Jiao, says there’s need for about 15 more at the Malawi clinic.
“And we are contacted by doctors in Haiti also to deliver such a unit. So it is in demand.”
It costs about $800 to produce each unit, that’s about half the cost of a similar device for sale. The Grand Valley model will be flown to Malawi midsummer escorted by a youth group.
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