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Title: Use of phase change material for microbiological incubators : designing for low resource settings
Author: Matthews , Robert
Awarding Body: University of Bristol
Current Institution: University of Bristol
Date of Award: 2014
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A novel incubator, which utilises latent heat energy storage, has been researched, designed and developed. Without the need to rely on an electricity supply, the new incubator will enable reliable microbiological testing to be conducted in low resource settings, as found in many developing countries. Microbiological contamination of drinking water is a significant cause of death and disease in developing countries. Water quality monitoring is an important aspect of water safety. There is a need for more widespread usage of microbiological testing, and the lack of a reliable method for incubating tests is a barrier where infrastructure and resources are limited. This thesis documents research to develop an incubator that is appropriate for use in low resource settings. This utilises a phase change material (PCM), which enables latent heat energy storage in order to maintain incubation temperature. It has been demonstrated experimentally that such an incubator can be used to perform microbial water quality monitoring using an enzyme substrate test, without compromising performance of the test. It delivers reliable operation across a range of environmental conditions that are likely to be encountered in developing countries, including protecting the test against overheating in hot climates. It does not require an electricity supply for operation. Research in several fields has been undertaken to inform and evaluate the development of the PCM incubator. Key original contributions of this research include: 1) Evaluation of incubation temperature standards for E. coli testing using enzyme substrate tests; 2) Investigation into the effect of temperature on growth characteristics of individual E. coli organisms in a water test; 3) Development of a model to predict test result at variable incubation temperature; 4) Examination of PCMs suitable for incubation of microbiological tests; 5) Analysis of ambient temperature incubation as a means of conducting microbiological analysis; 6) Design, development and evaluation of a PCM incubator suitable for use in low resource settings. The PCM incubator described herein has the potential to enable water quality monitoring to be performed in low resource areas where water is largely untested and which also suffer from the greatest impact on health due to contaminated water. This technology also has the potential to be applied in other fields, such as clinical microbiology or environmental monitoring. Ultimately, by enabling microbiological testing, latent heat incubation by means of a PCM incubator has the potential to improve human health in low resource areas of developing countries. Keywords: Incubator; phase change material (PCM); latent heat energy storage; water testing; drinking water quality; developing countries; low resource settings; Escherichia coli; growth rate; lag phase; relative lag time; Colilert®, Aquatest
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available