Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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ALCAS (Advanced, Low-Cost Autoclave Solutions)

IDEAS Competition

ALCAS (Advanced, Low-Cost Autoclave Solutions)

Competition Year: 2011

Bring cost-effective, easy-to-use, portable, and highly-effective medical instrument sterilization to Nepal's rural hospitals

Health and Medical Finance and Entrepreneurship Emergency and Disaster Relief

Quick Links

Our Pitch

In the developing world, the rate of surgical site infections in rural hospitals is 5 to 10 times greater than those in developed nations. The major contributing factor to this large gap is the inaccessibility of sterile equipment and facilities. This problem is especially prevalent in Nepal’s district-level hospitals, which serve the rural population of 20 million. Alcohol, flame, and/or concentrated “barbicide” are used to disinfect their surgical equipment, killing some but not all microbes. The spores and viruses that survive on the equipment are introduced to deeper tissue layers during open surgeries and put patients at risk of coming out of surgeries in worse conditions than when they entered.

The Advanced Low Cost Autoclave Solutions (ALCAS) team is committed to bringing medical sterilization equipment to those that need it most. While available autoclaves are expensive, dependent on electricity, and require complex interaction, the ALCAS autoclave costs around $100 (5 to 100 times less than products currently on the market), can operate on a variety of energy sources (e.g. wood, kerosene, solar), and has a simple user interface. In addition, the autoclave meets highest level of sterilization set by the US Center for Disease Control. We have a working prototype and are excited to test this technology in Nepal this summer with our committed community partners.


Provide reliable medical sterilization facilities to 110 rural Nepali medical clinics by January 2012

Who We Are

Greg Tao Technical Lead Greg is developing the autoclave as his master’s thesis in MIT’s mechanical engineering department. He has extensive experience designing and prototyping medical products as well as a background in pre-medicine. He interned with Ethicon-endo Surgery and Apple Inc, both leading engineering firms in their respective fields. Provided a warm reception to the product this summer, he plans to take a year after graduating to further develop the autoclave platform into a truly sustainable business in Nepal. Fully committed through September 2013

Hallie Cho Business Strategy Lead, Design Consult Hallie is a first year graduate student in Mechanical Engineering at MIT. She graduated with a dual-degree in Mechanical Engineering and Management from MIT in 2010. She has experiences in product design (2 medical equipment and 7 consumer goods product), writing business proposals (work experience in 1 start up and too many entrepreneurship courses), supply chain management and designing distribution channels. Fully committed through September 2012.

Shambhu Koirala Nepal Communications Team Shambhu is a freshman majoring in bioengineering at MIT from Solukhumbu, a remote village in Nepal. He is using his extensive list of contacts in the nearby city of Biratnagar to connect with and maintain feedback from district level hospitals. His experience organizing large events, like a nationwide Nepali cricket tournament and work with the American Embassy in Nepal, will also be very valuable in organizing the autoclave user network. He is fluent in Nepali, which will help him in working with Pramod to identify and maintain communication with local partners in Nepal.

Pramod Krandel Nepal Communications Team Pramod is a freshman at MIT spent the first 10 years of his life in Baglung, a remote Nepali village 60km from the city of Pokhara. At the age of 10, he moved to Pokhara for school and developed a contact network that is being used to get into district level hospitals there. He is a people person who has been involved with many community oriented Nepali programs and understands both rural and city life in Nepal. He is also fluent in Nepali and will work with Shambhu to identify and maintain communication with local partners in Nepal.

Dr. Ishwar Bhattarai Nepal Communications Team Dr. Bhattarai is an orthopaedics resident at Tribhuwan University’s teaching hospital, Nepal’s most prestigious medical school. Many colleagues at district level hospitals in his hometown of Chitwan, a small city in Nepal, have expressed interested in the autoclave. His medical skills will prove invaluable for a clinical outcomes study.

Nimesh Ghimire Nepal Communications Team Nimesh is a local partner in Nepal taking a gap year between high school and college. In that time he has developed a nationwide youth empowerment project sponsored by the Nepali and British governments. He is committed to making this project into a similar organization and see's a significant need for the autoclave in Nepal. His current work involves contacting private health clinics in Kathmandu, talking with medical school, and the ministry of health to garner support and funding.

Our Community Partner

Partner Name







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Comments and Support

  • ,,,

    Posted by nqllomfwe on Fri, May 10th 2013, 13:19 Report Abuse

  • Fantastic project, great to see. I am visiting Kopan Monastery in October 2012 to do bona fide dental treatment and am seeking assistance in purchasing an autoclave for the monastery. Can you help in enabling me to purchase an autoclave? Regards, George Manos Dental practitioner ( graduated 1972 Adelaide Uni, Australia) 0449675959

    Posted by Dr George Manos on Mon, Mar 26th 2012, 18:19 Report Abuse

  • Voted for ALCAS and the solar-powered autoclave -- surprised these solutions aren't getting more votes as they are definitely high-impact and the most promising

    Posted by S. Mani on Fri, Apr 22nd 2011, 16:21 Report Abuse

  • Good luck guys! It is pretty good to take such an initiative. I hope u all the best.

    Posted by O. Pokharel on Thu, Apr 21st 2011, 00:09 Report Abuse

  • all the best!!

    Posted by P. Koirala on Thu, Apr 14th 2011, 12:15 Report Abuse

  • I am a biomedical researcher and I wish all the best wishes for the project and I hope it will bring promising results.

    Posted by B. Acharya on Tue, Apr 12th 2011, 19:43 Report Abuse

  • This is great

    Posted by T. Helterline on Tue, Apr 12th 2011, 18:05 Report Abuse

  • Best wishes for the project...

    Posted by A. Upadhyaya Ghimire on Tue, Apr 12th 2011, 08:40 Report Abuse

  • Best wishes n hope the outcome will be as promising!!

    Posted by B. Koirala on Tue, Apr 12th 2011, 01:21 Report Abuse

  • this sounds pretty exciting, i hope you succeed and attain your goals cheers, sebastian

    Posted by S. S on Tue, Apr 12th 2011, 00:04 Report Abuse

  • Best wishes for the project!

    Posted by P. Giri on Sat, Apr 9th 2011, 16:32 Report Abuse

  • good luck guys -Kunsel

    Posted by T. Kunsel on Sat, Apr 9th 2011, 02:31 Report Abuse

  • am a student journalist from Nepal and I am interested in creating and applying new ideas to combat the climate change and also making climate change an opportunity for the rural people of Nepal. Climate change can not only be the threat but opportunity as well and the rural people can generate income source from this. I want to be a member of your team and participate in the idea contest. Hope for your response and Cooperation. Ankush M. Chalise Pokhara

    Posted by A. Chalise on Mon, Mar 14th 2011, 01:32 Report Abuse

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