There’s a downside to the medical equipment donations that find their way to Sub-Saharan Africa: Many of the devices never get used. The World Health Organization estimates up to 70 percent of all donations end up in what’s referred to as a “medical device graveyard.” Much of the equipment it is too complex, requires non-existent infrastructure or can’t be repaired once broken.
With this in mind, Jack Albert Trew designed the Spokefuge, a manual centrifuge powered by a spinning bike wheel. Trew, a designer from the United Kingdom, knew he needed to make use of readily accessible equipment (the wheel) and it should use no electricity. “From the very start I wanted the product to be a simple and hassle free alternative for blood diagnosis,” he says. “I had no intention of creating a more complex and frustrating task that people would not want to do.”
Jack Albert Trew designed a low-tech centrifuge that’s powered by a spinning bike wheel
To use it, people prick a finger and collect a sample that fits into a standard capillary tube. This tube is then inserted into the Spokefuge’s rubber sleeve, which creates an air-tight seal. The sleeve is slipped inside the swinging arm attachment that clips onto the bike spokes and spins for about 10 minutes, the amount of time it takes to sufficiently separate a sample at speeds of more than 750 rpm. The resulting sample, once separated, can be compared to a microhematocrit chart.
For the most difficult filtering materials, the Inverting Filter Centrifuge should be considered. The Inverting Filter does not leave a residual heel, as peelers do, allowing you to perform a Thin Cake Operation that may be required for the most difficult filtering products. In addition, the Inverting Filter can be fitted with the unique Pressure-Added Centrifugation System (PAC) which allows the use of gas pressure as an additional driving force to dry the cake inside the centrifuge beyond what spinning alone can do. This can increase production by shortening the overall cycle time.