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    Date submitted
  • 02-Mar-2018

SubzeO

Abstract

Many medications must be kept cold. This creates problems when natural disasters happen, such as Hurricane Maria, that stop hospitals from accessing the electricity needed for refrigeration. The SubzeO allows for perishable medications to be preserved without electricity.The SubzeO is a zeolite based medical refrigerator, that is powered by fire or solar. SubzeO can also provide remote locations where electricity is unavailable or unreliable access to perishable medications.

Additional Questions

Who is your customer?

The primary market is: Hospitals and clinics in disaster prone areas, as a way to ensure that temperature sensitive medication remains functional in the case of power outages and emergencies. Developing areas that do not have reliable access to a ‘cold chain’ for medication, due to unreliable power, road, and fuel access. FEMA, The Red Cross, and other disaster response and relief organizations Potential Markets Include: Emergency survivalists, outdoor recreational, semi permanent camps set up during expeditions, and the military.

What problem does this idea/product solve or what market need does it serve?

Many medications, such as vaccines for seasonal flu and tetanus, must be kept at 45° F. Other medications, such as insulin, must be kept at 75° F, otherwise they lose their effectiveness and potentially become dangerous. Many of the temperature sensitive medications such as respiratory medications and tetanus vaccines are in highest demand after a natural disaster. During natural disasters, the ‘cold chain’ is often interrupted, stopping the flow of medication when it is in the highest demand. Hurricane Maria, which struck Puerto Rico last September, knocked out much of the island’s power grid. While most hospitals had backup generators, fuel shortages forced many hospitals to close or experience intermittent power outages, which damaged many medications past the point of salvage. Virtually all refrigeration systems require electricity. Not only does this prove an issue for patients who need the medication, but also for the hospitals who have a limited access to fresh medications. Puerto Rico suffered especially from the insulin shortage, as the territory has the highest prevalence of diabetes in the United states at 13%.

What attributes will make this idea/product successful? Why do you believe that those features will create success?

Certain features, such as low easy maintenance, are specifically targeted toward disaster response and remote usage. Allowing zeolite to be removed and heated separately from the container is an innovation that allows for the SubzeO to maintain a constant temperature over an extended period of time. This will make the SubzeO successful as there is demand for refrigerated medicine where there isn't electricity. Regenerating the zeolite through fire or through concentrated solar heat are also features specifically designed to help where access to electricity is restricted or non-existent. Being able to replenish the water from any source is also a feature that will help SubzeO succeed. The ability of the SubzeO to be marked to humanitarian or disaster relief organizations, such as the Red Cross or FEMA, will improve its commercial success.

Explain how you (your team) will execute to make this idea/product successful? What gives you (your team) an advantage over others already in the market or new to this market?

Our team will make the product successful by focusing foremost on the needs of the target audience. We both have taken higher level chemistry courses, allowing us to understand and improve the zeolite freezing mechanism. There are no close competitors in the market space SubzeO fills, however there are a few inferior substitutes: Existing medical refrigerators require a constant supply of electricity to keep the medication at the correct temperature, and even a brief lapse can ruin the medication. There are expensive and non-mobile refrigerators that have a backup battery which typically lasts four hours. In a disaster scenario where a hospital is running off of generators, using limited fuel supplies to recharge the battery of a fridge is not top priority. The Zeer Pot, a homemade evaporation cooling refrigerator, doesn’t work in high humidity, doesn’t reach low enough temperatures for medication, and isn’t mobile. Filling a cooler with ice or dry ice is only a temporary measure, and provides challenges to controlling the internal temperature. Absorption refrigerators are not mobile and have many movable parts that require upkeep. SubzeO is the only product that can reliably keep medications cold for an extended period of time without access to electricity.