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Engineering

Research project: StarSaver - cleaning wounds when water is scarce

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In many parts of the world, the only clean water is bottled water: can we turn it form a mediocre wound cleaner into a spectacular one?

Every 1 hour delay in treating sepsis decreases chance of survival by 6%.

Cleaning injuries reduces the chance of sepsis.

But sometimes the only clean water is bottled water, which on its own is not great at cleaning wounds. Rescue workers, workplaces and rural maternity wards in many parts for the world need access to a better wound cleaner.

We can make plain cold water clean wounds, using StarStream cleaning.

Our dream is a not-for-profit, solar-charged, battery powered reusable StarStream for bottled water: StarSaver.

We have shown that StarStream can make cold water clean extraordinarily well, without additives. StarSaver is an aspiration – we are currently trying, wholly unfunded, to build the devices, but that is a long way from convincing an industry to build them on a not-for-profit basis.

The concept of a portable StarStream, powered by a solar-charged battery, takes us towards a world where a bottle of drinking water can also be used as an effective emergency wound cleaner, for rescue workers, drones or vehicles that cannot carry heavy packs of water, soap and disinfectant. It can be used to support rural medicine and maternity services, and provide emergency cleaning for wounds and foodstuff when flooding contaminates water supplies.

Professor Leighton is collaborating with Dr Mawuli Dzodzomenyo (Ghana School of Public Health, University of Ghana) on an EPSRC Pump Priming project under the Global-NAMRIP initiative. On a recent visit to Southampton to discuss making the StarStream technology suitable for fitting to bottles of drinking water, to ensure that such water goes from one critical use (rehydration) to two (rehydration and wound cleaning), Dr Dzodzomenyo took the opportunity to try a prototype StarStream device, the foundation for development of StarSaver.

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