• A Life-saving Sterilization Device

    The “LifeShift Sterilizer” Innovation

    show caption

    Surgical instruments are sterilized using electricity and clean water. However, in many countries, these resources are difficult to access. The LifeShift Sterilizer offers an effective solution.

Surgical instruments are sterilized using electricity and clean water. However, in many countries, these resources are difficult to access. The LifeShift Sterilizer offers an effective solution, in recognition of which its creators won the 2016 Aspirin Social Innovation Award.

Story check

  • Challenge:
    Wounds often become infected after operations in developing countries and emerging markets. Doctors lack the clean water and electricity they need to sterilize their surgical instruments.
  • Solution:
    To solve the problem, RSO Shift GmbH has developed the “LifeShift Sterilizer”, winning the company the Aspirin Social Innovation Award.
  • Benefit:
    The LifeShift Sterilizer sterilizes surgical instruments without the need for electricity and clean water. Thanks to its integrated solar collectors, photovoltaic cells and water treatment system, it can be used in sunny areas all over the world.

Operations can save lives. However, even routine procedures can be dangerous for patients if clean instruments are not used. This is a particularly serious problem in developing countries and emerging markets. Doctors here often lack the very resources they need to sterilize their surgical instruments – electricity and clean water.

Kassel-based company RSO Shift has set itself the challenge of addressing this problem. “Sterilizing instruments reduces the risk of wounds becoming infected and thus saves lives,” explains Martin Reh, co-founder of RSO Shift. Founded in 2012, the company has designed “LifeShift Sterilizer” to sterilize surgical instruments without electricity. The device runs on renewable energy and is exceptionally user-friendly. “We work with pictograms that are easy to understand and the control elements are represented with symbols. These are symbols that are also used on cellphones in developing regions. This means that absolutely anyone can use our Sterilizer,” says Reh, whose name provides the “R” in RSO Shift.

The “LifeShift Sterilizer” weighs approximately 45 kilograms and stands 1.20 meters tall. Thanks to its wheels, it can also be used in remote areas of developing countries and emerging markets.
Solar collectors feed into the storage unit. One charge is enough for one procedure – a cleaning and disinfection process or a sterilization procedure.
The integrated water treatment system sterilizes unclean fresh water.
The instruments are cleaned in two strainer trays and then disinfected with distilled steam.
Sterilization takes place in a sterile container. Once the process is complete, the instruments can be used immediately or stored in the container. The container has a volume of one kilogram.

The technology behind the life-saving sterilization device is simple. All it requires is water and sunlight. Photovoltaic cells and solar collectors remove the need for mains electricity, while an integrated water treatment system means that the water used does not need even to be clean – the machine itself takes care of this. “Early on in the development stage, we replaced components that were susceptible to failure, for instance by replacing electronic pumps with manual ones. As a result, our sterilizer delivers a long service life and has low maintenance requirements,” explains Reh. “After all, it can be almost impossible to ensure maintenance for medical appliances in developing countries.”

RSO plans to carry out tests on the device in Africa in collaboration with Tabitha Global Care before the end of 2017 to check that it is user-friendly and meets local requirements. It is set to be launched on the market at the end of the year.

At the moment, the sterilizer only works in areas where there is enough sunlight. One possible further development of the device would work with fossil fuels so that surgical instruments can be sterilized in areas with less sunlight. “However, we do not want to restrict ourselves to just one device,” says Reh. “Our aim is to take the ‘Shift’ even further and bring other innovations onto the market.”

The company’s idea won it the Aspirin Social Innovation Award in 2016 - an achievement that gives Martin Reh, Raphael Schönweitz, Philipp Odernheimer and their team access to Bayer’s global network of experts. “In the future, we hope to ‘shift’ the lives of patients all over the world for the better,” sums up Reh.