This Box Doesn’t Look Like Much, But It Could Save Lives

Successfully completing a surgery is no small feat under the best conditions. But imagine trying to pinpoint the right spot for an incision with no light in a dirty environment: It just can’t be done.

A new invention might fix that. It’s a 20-foot shipping container called the Sterile Box, and it contains everything needed to clean and sterilize surgical equipment. It’s designed to be dropped into most any setting where people need medical attention but can’t get it due to infrastructure problems.

People living in rural Malawi, for instance, lack easy access to electricity and piped water, which means it’s not really possible for them to undergo potentially lifesaving surgeries without traveling to an urban center — even in a relatively routine situation like childbirth.

The Sterile Box provides a few solutions. It’s solar-powered and contains a water filtration system. It sterilizes medical equipment with steam via an autoclave device. Surgery doesn’t happen in the unit itself, but it’s there to provide clean tools, light and electricity to doctors.

Douglas Schuler, an associate business professor at Rice University in Houston, Texas, came up with the concept after considering a previous invention from his father-in-law, Jean Boubour. In the 1980s, Boubour conceived of a solar-powered thermal cooking system — “It’s a mouthful,” Schuler concedes — which would allow people to prepare food without fuel.

Schuler told The Huffington Post that he tried to build a business around a similar cooking device in 2008. He got a grant to try it in Haiti, but it fizzled.

“It was a total bust,” Schuler said. “The thing works well, but everyone didn’t like using it.”

So, he turned his attention to a different application for the technology.

In 2012, he came up with a way to <a target="_blank" —> Read More