Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Revolution with a salad spinner

04.05.2010
Rice students' 'Sally Centrifuge' could help diagnose anemia globally

A simple salad spinner will save lives this summer, if everything goes as planned by two Rice University undergraduates.

The spinner has been turned, so to speak, into a rudimentary centrifuge that medical clinics in developing countries can use to separate blood without electricity.

Rice sophomore Lila Kerr and freshman Lauren Theis will take their Sally Centrifuge abroad for nearly two months this summer as part of Beyond Traditional Borders (BTB), Rice's global health initiative that brings new ideas and technologies to underdeveloped countries. Kerr will take a spinner to Ecuador in late May, Theis will take one to Swaziland in early June and a third BTB team will take one to Malawi, also in June. Such field testing is important to Rice students as they develop a range of tools to enhance global health.

Kerr and Theis are minoring in global health technologies and took the Introduction to Bioengineering and World Health class taught by Rebecca Richards-Kortum, Rice's Stanley C. Moore Professor, chair of the Department of Bioengineering and director of Rice 360¢ª: Institute for Global Health Technologies.

"There was a whole range of projects to take on this year, and luckily we got one that wasn't terribly engineering-intensive," said Kerr, a sociology major from Dayton, Ohio.

"We were essentially told we need to find a way to diagnose anemia without power, without it being very costly and with a portable device," added Theis, a political science major and native of San Antonio, Texas.

They found that a salad spinner met those criteria. When tiny capillary tubes that contain about 15 microliters of blood are spun in the device for 10 minutes, the blood separates into heavier red blood cells and lighter plasma. The hematocrit, or ratio of red blood cells to the total volume, measured with a gauge held up to the tube, can tell clinicians if a patient is anemic. That detail is critical for diagnosing malnutrition, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and malaria.

"The students really did an amazing job of taking very simple, low-cost materials and creating a device their research shows correlates nicely with hematocrit levels in the blood," said Maria Oden, professor in the practice of engineering education and director of Rice's Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen (OEDK). She was the team's co-adviser with Richards-Kortum. "Many of the patients seen in developing world clinics are anemic, and it's a severe health problem. Being able to diagnose it with no power, with a device that's extremely lightweight, is very valuable," she said.

Kerr said the device spins tubes at up to 950 rpm. Results with the push-pump spinner compare favorably to those obtained with the ZIPocrit, a miniature, battery-powered centrifuge used as part of Rice's Lab-in-a-Backpack project. The ZIPocrit spins up to 10,000 rpm and completes its task in four to five minutes.

But the manual Sally Centrifuge, named in honor of a landmark known as the Sallyport on the Rice campus, has other advantages.

First, it requires no electricity -- just a bit of muscle. "We've pumped it for 20 minutes with no problem," Theis said. "Ten minutes is a breeze."

Second, it can spin up to 30 tubes at a time versus the ZIPocrit's maximum of four.

Third, it has proven to be fairly robust. "It's all plastic and pretty durable," Kerr said. "We haven't brought it overseas yet, of course, but we've trekked it back and forth across campus in our backpacks and grocery bags and it's held up fine."

The centrifuge, assembled using plastic lids, cut-up combs, yogurt containers and a hot-glue gun, costs about $30 in parts, including the spinner. The students expect to continue work on the device after their summer treks.

Contact: David Ruth | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.rice.edu

More articles from Medical Engineering:

nachricht Biosensor allows real-time oxygen monitoring for 'organs-on-a-chip'
21.08.2018 | North Carolina State University

nachricht Can radar replace stethoscopes?
14.08.2018 | Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg

All articles from Medical Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: It’s All in the Mix: Jülich Researchers are Developing Fast-Charging Solid-State Batteries

There are currently great hopes for solid-state batteries. They contain no liquid parts that could leak or catch fire. For this reason, they do not require cooling and are considered to be much safer, more reliable, and longer lasting than traditional lithium-ion batteries. Jülich scientists have now introduced a new concept that allows currents up to ten times greater during charging and discharging than previously described in the literature. The improvement was achieved by a “clever” choice of materials with a focus on consistently good compatibility. All components were made from phosphate compounds, which are well matched both chemically and mechanically.

The low current is considered one of the biggest hurdles in the development of solid-state batteries. It is the reason why the batteries take a relatively long...

Im Focus: Color effects from transparent 3D-printed nanostructures

New design tool automatically creates nanostructure 3D-print templates for user-given colors
Scientists present work at prestigious SIGGRAPH conference

Most of the objects we see are colored by pigments, but using pigments has disadvantages: such colors can fade, industrial pigments are often toxic, and...

Im Focus: Unraveling the nature of 'whistlers' from space in the lab

A new study sheds light on how ultralow frequency radio waves and plasmas interact

Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...

Im Focus: New interactive machine learning tool makes car designs more aerodynamic

Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.

When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...

Im Focus: Robots as 'pump attendants': TU Graz develops robot-controlled rapid charging system for e-vehicles

Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.

Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

LaserForum 2018 deals with 3D production of components

17.08.2018 | Event News

Within reach of the Universe

08.08.2018 | Event News

A journey through the history of microscopy – new exhibition opens at the MDC

27.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Biosensor allows real-time oxygen monitoring for 'organs-on-a-chip'

21.08.2018 | Medical Engineering

Researchers discover link between magnetic field strength and temperature

21.08.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

IHP technology ready for space flights

21.08.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>