The necessary parts: one salad spinner, some hair combs, a yogurt container, plastic lids, and a glue gun. The finished product: a manual, push-pump centrifuge that could be a lifesaver in developing world medical clinics. Its name: the Sally Centrifuge.
A team of college students invented this low-cost centrifuge, which can be built for about $30, as a project for a global health class at Rice University. The teacher challenged them to build an inexpensive, portable tool that could diagnose anemia without access to electricity, and the tinkerers got to work.
Pokeberries, whose red dye was famously used by Civil War soldiers to write letters home, may enable the distribution of worldwide solar power. Researchers at Wake Forest University’s Center for Nanotechnology and Molecular Materials are using the red dye from this weedy plant’s berries to coat their high-efficient, fiber-based solar cells, licensed by FiberCell, Inc.
These fiber cells are composed of millions of tiny fibers that maximize the cell’s surface area and trap light at almost any angle–so the slanting sun rays of morning and evening aren’t wasted. The dye’s absorbent qualities enhance the fibers’ ability to trap sunlight, allowing the fiber cells to produce nearly twice the power that flat-cell technology produces.
Because pokeberries can grow in almost any climate, they can be raised by residents in developing countries “who can make the dye absorber for the extremely efficient fiber cells and provide energy where power lines don’t run,” said David Carroll, the center’s director.
Taking recycling to a whole new level, the Peepoo bag allows you to, well, pee and poo in a bag, which can then be planted to help your garden grow. For slums in the developing world where human waste is an unregulated nightmare and flying toilets are common practice, the bag provides a means of waterless sewage disposal and organic fertilizer all in one easy, biodegradable step.
The bag is lined with Urea, a common fertilizer that breaks down urine and feces into ammonia and carbonate. Pathogens in the waste, including viruses, bacteria and parasites, are killed within anywhere from a matter of hours to several weeks.