Solar-Powered Autoclave Design Wins Top Prize in Global Search for Non-Burn Technologies to Dispose of Medical Waste

WASHINGTON -- Health Care Without Harm today announced the winners of its international contest for innovative non-incineration technologies to treat medical waste in developing areas. The winning conceptual designs -- revealed today as the international community observes World Health Day 2003 and the theme of "Healthy Environments for Children" -- will be made available in the public domain.

"These technologies provide a solution to a problem faced by many poor rural communities, which are burning medical waste and polluting the air with dioxin, mercury and other toxins because they lack access to affordable alternative technologies that are available in industrialized countries," said Gary Cohen, director of Health Care Without Harm, an international campaign to reduce the environmental impact of healthcare (

"We congratulate our winners for creating low-cost, easily replicable, non-burn treatment technologies that are safer for public health, workers and the environment."

First place and $5,000 went to the Team of Rys Hardwick-Jones of the University of Sydney, Australia, for a solar-powered autoclave system named Prometheus, which is portable and can be used in any weather conditions. Second place and $1,500 went to M.G. Holliday of Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals, United Kingdom, for a simple system that combines mechanical grinding with boiling water to treat medical waste. Third place and $1,000 was awarded to the Team of Prof. Mark Bricka and Allissa Willis of Mississippi State University for a proposal to treat waste through the heat generated by a chemical reaction involving lime and subsequent hardening of the waste into a cement-like material. Five Honorable Mentions were awarded $100 each.

"These innovative designs can be built using local materials and operated with little or no electricity, and they do not require highly skilled labor," said Dr. Jorge Emmanuel, a medical waste consultant who chaired the panel of international judges for the contest.

Complete design descriptions are available at The contest results will also be presented at a reception in Geneva on May 21 to coincide with the WHO General Assembly.

Source: Health Care Without Harm