SAWW is supporting a project to develop a unique solar powered system that generates and stores oxygen from air. Called the Solox, it will ensure oxygen is always available for treating patients in poor and remote parts of the world.
Oxygen is an essential life-saving form of therapy. It is used to treat pneumonia, the biggest cause of death of children worldwide. It is also used in the treatment of many forms of lung and heart disease, severe bleeding, emergency medicine, resuscitation and in the administration of anaesthesia. In well-resourced hospitals oxygen gas is readily available and piped to the bedside of every patient, but in low-resource countries oxygen supplies are limited and unreliable. As a result, millions of patients who need oxygen do not receive it, often with fatal results.
Poorly-resourced hospitals depend on cylinders of compressed oxygen, but these are expensive and difficult to transport over poor roads, so they regularly run out. Oxygen concentrators, that produce oxygen from room air, are a cost-effective alternative; although these require an electrical supply and power cuts are common in low-resouce countries.
The solution: Solox
Most tropical countries have plenty of sunshine, making solar powered devices an attractive option. Engineers Dr David Peel and Robert Neighbour have devised the innovative Solox a robust solar powered solution to make and store oxygen. The Solox consists of the following components:
A solar system to capture sunlight, convert it to electricity, store it in batteries as DC and convert that power to AC.
A robust oxygen concentrator.
A unique oxygen reservoir system [supplied by Diamedcia (UK) Ltd] that stores the oxygen produced in pressurised vessels.
The entire system reduces to a compact set of components and can be easily transported by road and rapidly assembled. After the initial outlay for the equipment, both air and sunlight are free and inexhaustible resources, making this an ideal low-cost solution for use in low-resource settings. At present hospitals in low-income countries invariably spend a large proportion of their budgets on oxygen but are still seldom able to provide a reliable supply. Solox will enable hospitals to generate their own reliable, inexpensive, oxygen supply, vital for saving lives.
The development and widespread use of the Solox system will have the following outcomes:
Improved oxygen supply. The Solox will enable poor hospitals to produce their own affordable and reliable oxygen supply, without being dependent on the supply of cylinders.
Improved healthcare. With a reliable oxygen supply the hospital can improve its treatment of emergencies, resuscitations, pneumonia, severe bleeding, babies with respiratory difficulties and mothers with birth complications. This will result in a reduction in the number of preventable deaths.
Save Lives. This simple equipment will provide a reliable supply of oxygen, 24 hours a day for 365 days a year. It can save hundreds of lives every year, and thousands of lives over its lifetime (minimum of 5 years).
Money saving. The new equipment will produce oxygen cheaply resulting in substantial savings for the hospital as it will replace the need to buy expensive oxygen cylinders.
Skills retention. Hospitals with appropriate equipment and facilities improve staff morale and help to retain skilled hospital staff.
Award Winning SOLOX TM
Work supported by SAWW on the Solox system and undertaken by Dr David Peel and Dr Ylva Konsberg, won runner-up in the 2017 Association of Anaesthetists of Great Britain and Ireland (AAGBI) Innovation Awards. The oxygen reservoir system (by Diamedica UK Ltd), a version of which is used with SOLOX, won first prize.
Initial work on the development of the Solox system was undertaken by Dr Peel in Gambia and won an Innovation Award from the World Federation of Societies of Anaesthesiologists (WFSA) presented at the 2016 World Congress in Hong Kong.
Solox uses solar power to run a device that generates oxygen from air and store this oxygen. It could generate millions of litres of oxygen from free unlimited resources – the sun and air.
Oxygen is essential in treating many conditions, inlcuding pneumonia, the biggest cause of death in children worldwide.