National Energy Globe Award Costa Rica (overall winner)

Submitted by: Department of Phaysics, Universidad Nacional, Heredia, Costa Rica; Dr. Alejandro Gutierrez E.,
Implemented country: Costa Rica
Title: Solar Ovens for Sterilization and Disinfection

These solar sterilizing/disinfecting ovens pilot an environmentally sound and cost-effective method of processing hazardous infectious/contagious wastes, thereby reducing disease dissemination, contamination of municipal landfills and energetic waste caused by incinerators, autoclaves or other traditional treatment methods. When incorrectly treated, the environmental pollution and diseases caused by infectious/contagious waste from medical procedures are insignificant. Unfortunately, the methods most often used in developing countries are inadequate as modern technology is not available and other forms, such as incinerators or autoclaves, lack the capacity to be effective and cost-efficient. As a result, hazardous infectious waste is usually thrown into rivers and into common landfills without any special treatment, resulting in environmental and human health hazards. Laws against such poisoning practices exist, but they simply are not enforced. Our concentrating solar ovens can guarantee temperatures of 180 to 200 ºC during 5 – 6 hours per day, which are the thermal operating conditions necessary for the sterilization/disinfection of 100% of hospital biological waste. Any community will benefit from improved environmental and human health, as this novel technology does not produce toxic compounds such as furans, dioxins and biphenyls that result from the combustion processes at high temperatures. Our low-cost process sterilizes/disinfects onsite, thereby avoiding dangerous waste transportation, and hospitals can dispose of the waste as common biologically inert waste. Other clear benefits are the low-cost maintenance, long lifetime cycles and significant conventional energy savings.

Category: Earth