The Human-Powered Nebulizer in Central America

Marquette University, 2009 - $41,974

A nebulizer is a device that delivers aerosolized liquid medicine deep into the lungs. Commercial nebulizers use electric compressors to maintain a constant rate of airflow, and while this is effective, it presents a problem in the developing world where electricity is often unavailable and unreliable. At the same time, chronic respiratory diseases and acute lower respiratory infections are the third major cause of morbidity and mortality in the developing world.

This team is developing a human-powered nebulizer (HPN) that replaces the electric compressor with a leg-powered source of airflow. The HPN is a two-piston system, with each piston connected to a pedal. Stepping on the pedal generates airflow from the pistons. The idea has been tested and confirmed as a workable, low cost alternative to traditional compressor-based nebulizers. The team will develop a scalable prototype, test it under field conditions, and develop a business model for broad implementation.