Low-Cost, Reliable Power Generation From Naturally Occurring Evaporative Cooling for Healthcare

The Global Social Innovation Initiative
Organization Location: 
Orland Park, Illinois, USA

This innovation aims to provide energy to resource-limited settings to allow these areas to store vaccines and medicines, maintain the cold chain, power lighting and small medical equipment, and support vital mHealth and telemedicine services. This project takes a science and technology approach to develop a device that produces portable, low-cost, and reliable electricity. The product works essentially like watering a plant. It uses semiconductor chips that generate current when exposed to temperature gradients. A consistent temperature gradient is created by a sand-water interface that carries away heat through evaporation, producing temperature differences between the interior and exterior surfaces of the semiconductor chips. The project seeks to address the current deficiencies in providing energy to areas not yet connected to grid power by providing an alternative to current options: solar power or the burning of fuels. The device is capable of generating power indoors and outdoors, does not depend on sunlight, can be portable, does not require technical knowledge to maintain, is affordable for resource-limited settings, and has income-generating applications. In the short-term, the project team aims to develop a working prototype and conduct field testing. In the long-term, the team aims to work with partners to integrate the device into the healthcare delivery infrastructure of energy-poor settings in order to reduce neonatal and maternal mortality rates and improve quality of life.