The objective of my research is to develop sustainable, context-appropriate oxygen supply and delivery systems for health centres and hospitals in low-income countries.

For her doctoral thesis with U of T’s Centre for Global Engineering, Bev Bradley is developing the sustainable technology needed to give low-income countries a more reliable supply of medical oxygen. A member of Engineers without Borders since 2003, Ms. Bradley has visited The Gambia three times, including a trip in the summer of 2011 for her U of T doctoral research.

In West Africa, about 21 per cent of childhood deaths are caused by pneumonia. Oxygen is crucial, among other things, for treating pneumonia – the number-one killer of children under five throughout the world.

Hospitals in developing countries usually rely on oxygen cylinders, which are heavy, can explode and may require a long drive over difficult roads just to refill—or on oxygen-generating machines, which require a steady power supply that simply might not be available. Ms. Bradley and a team of Gambian technicians have developed a battery-powered version of this machine that can last up to 20 hours.

For her thesis, Ms. Bradley hopes to investigate several other options, including solar-powered oxygen generators. But she notes that one solution won’t work everywhere. “It’s about understanding the local situation and coming up with something that works there.”

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