An automated device to lift medical equipment out of bleach in Malawi.


Member profile details

Membership level
2018-2019 Team
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Team Name
Project Title
An automated device to lift medical equipment out of bleach in Malawi.
Design Challenge
Tracking sterilization times is a challenging task for hospital staff in busy environments. Consequently, prolonged NaOCl exposure leads to gradual deterioration of medical tools, such as the rusting of metal forceps or degrading of plastic tubing. Our mission is to design a mechanical device to automatically lift sterilized tools out of the buckets of bleach to preserve medical equipment used in Malawi.
Design Summary
Our team has successfully developed a functioning, high fidelity prototype of the CleanMachine – a device to automatically lift tools out of bleach after they’re done being sterilized for low resource settings. The CleanMachine is a completely mechanical, two bucket system. The inner bucket holds tools being sanitized and controls lifting the tools out of bleach with floats. The outer bucket holds the bleach and control the timing mechanism. Our timing is controlled with a mechanical kitchen timer that has been modified to include a plunger and a body that fits to the outer bucket. This plunger displaces a custom, medium friction hook and eye that keeps the lid closed. When the soak time is completed, the lid will be unlatched, and the floats attached to the inner bucket will drive the inner bucket out of the bleach. The lid raising is facilitated by a counterweight and pulley.

We have tested how this design holds up against 4 of our 5 design criteria. Durability testing has yet to be performed, however we are optimistic that our device will hold up well with long exposure to bleach because the floats are designed to sit in pools with high chlorine levels. Our weight capacity is below the design criteria, however upon further research, we believe the device’s weight capacity will suffice for the hospital’s load. The device is able to operate for 2 of the 3 common soak times; while this doesn’t meet our goal of it performing all 3, we don’t consider this a failure because our deice can perform the most common time of 10 minutes, which is almost exclusively used by the hospital. Our device successfully meets the criteria for autonomy and manufacturing cost, ensuring that it can be financially accessible to the hospital and that it achieve the goal of creating an autonomous system.

The CleanMachine is designed so it can be manufactured in Malawi. We have developed a comprehensive manual for clinician use of the device and for future groups to construct the device. In the scaling up of our device, we recommend the use of a stronger mechanical timer and the addition of more buoyant floats so the device can operate with more diverse loads. Last Updated: 04/17/2019.
Date Updated
Wednesday, April 17, 2019
  • Global Health Technologies
  • Bioengineering
Faculty Advisor 1 - Name
Meaghan Bond
Faculty Advisor 1 - Department
  • RICE 360

Team Members

Award(s) and Recognition
Best Technology for Low-Resource Settings Design Award at Engineering Design Showcase 2019

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Contact us

Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen
Rice University

6100 Main Street MS 390 | Houston, Texas | 77005

Phone: 713.348.OEDK


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