20,000,000 low-birth-weight and premature babies are born each year. In developing countries, 450 of these tiny lives are lost each hour because they can't regulate their own body temperature.
Using off-grid, renewable technology, San Francisco non-profit Embrace has created an innovative product for keeping these little ones safe and warm, even when electronic incubators are scarce or too expensive.
As a sustainable social enterprise, Embrace has made it their mission "to empower the disadvantaged to improve their lives through disruptive technologies." Their first product, the Embrace Baby Warmer, helps keep low birth weight babies' body temperature up at 1 percent of the cost of a traditional hospital incubator.
The key to the product's success is a renewable phase-change material (PCM) called PureTemp, a bio-based PCM derived entirely from soybeans and other plant cellulose sources.
Unlike expensive paraffin or salt hydrate-based PCMs that use petroleum derivatives or are ineffective after repeated use, PureTemp is designed to meet the tightest temperature tolerances, without the environmental hazards of traditional PCM manufacturing.
How It Works
- A parent or doctor will heat the phase-change pouch using the electric heater or by filling the non-electric heating unit with hot water. Within 20 minutes, the pouch will heat up to 37C (98.6F), a temperature critical to a child’s survival.
- The heated pouch is placed into the sleeping bag warmer and the baby is laid inside. The pouch can be reheated hundreds of times. An indicator shows when it needs to be reheated.
- The pouch will remain between 37-35C for at least four hours. The phase-change material will absorb heat of the baby gets too hot, or release heat if the baby gets too cold.
Employing the same principles of latent heat energy that cause an ice cube to cool your warm class of water, PureTemp can continually regulate the temperature of a product or structure using the surrounding ambient energy.
In developing countries, where most babies are born at home without medical equipment or doctor supervision, many babies die from cold. Using the Embrace Baby Warmer, families would have a chance to keep their young ones warm until proper medical care can be found.
Can you think of other products that address global problems using renewable technology? Share them in a comment!