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The lack of proper surgical tool sterilization is an increasing issue in developing countries. Inadequate sterilization leads to disease transmission, infection and even death. While autoclaves, the current golden standard for sterilization, are effective, they are often rendered useless after breaking as the cost to repair and maintain them is incredibly high. This leads to the dependence on insufficient techniques such as the use of diluted bleach. Diluted bleach, while effective for disinfection, leads to the destruction of surgical tools over time, does not destroy spores, and is unsustainable, as it loses potency over time which leads to its otherwiseunnecessary repurchasing. The objective of this project is to develop an alternative to diluted bleach by producing a sterilizing device intended to lower the bacteria survivability on flat, metal tools between uses on patients. The deliverables were a model, a prototype, and testing results. The prototype produces pulsed electric fields (PEFs) using DC and AC voltages across a capacitor which lyse the cell membrane of the bacteria. The prototype exhibits sustainability, durability, ease of use, and most importantly inexpensiveness. Experimental results show the prototype is effective in killing bacteria and is optimized when using both DC and AC voltage, a large area bottom capacitor plate, and 20 minutes of application. This product addresses the need for a low cost sterilization tool in developing countries and it will prevent tool degradation and help reduce the continuous costs that occur with replacing diluted bleach.

Publication Date



biomedical engineering, sterilization


Biomedical Engineering and Bioengineering | Engineering

Faculty Advisor/Mentor

Daniel Conway

VCU Capstone Design Expo Posters


© The Author(s)

Date of Submission

August 2016

Low Cost Sterilization