Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Nsambya Hospital

Today Nicholas and I finally got to run a test a Nsambya Hospital. There has been a lot of miscommunication with the hospital the past few days about organizing the test. Yesterday we had scheduled to do our test, but the hospital went ahead and burned all their waste for the day, and the necessary hole in the chimney for the probe wasn't drilled like it was supposed to, but today we got it all sorted out for the most part. The only issue today was that when we showed up at the hospital a little before noon, the guy who normally runs the incinerator had kindly started the heating up process for us. The only problem was that he was heating the incinerator with medical waste, and yellowish smoke was pouring out of the incinerator because temperatures were not nearly high enough. This caused us to look into how the hospital was normally running the incinerator, and we found, not surprisingly, that almost none of the typical operating procedures were being followed, most importantly that the waste being burnt was unsorted and harmless waste like scraps of wood and cardboard wasn't being usedto heat the incinerator. Fortunately after a little effort, we were able to get things back on track and run our test. Considering the conditions, our results turned out a lot better than expected. Carbon monoxide levels were a little high, but the fact they were still reasonably low was pretty impressive given how the machine had been operated. This incinerator is also the largest version, and thus is a little more difficult to manage.
Up until now, all our tests have been completely under our control using incinerators owned by T4T strictly for experimental purposes. All those tests went very smoothly, with few variables and under our specified conditions. Today at Nsambya, we got a snapshot of what field conditions really are in the environments that these incinerators will be operating. The machine's efficiency depends heavily on how it is operated, and this will give us a good opportunity to figure out how to best run this incinerator in practical environment and how to keep the procedures simple. We'll be continuing to run tests on the Nsambya incinerator for the next week. Hopefully we'll get some good results.

Here you can get a feel for the size of the incinerator, and you can see all the smoke that's coming out due to temperatures being too low. When the temperatures are too low like this, there is no secondary combustion in the incinerator that is needed to destroy the gaseous waste, e.g. smoke.

Here you can see the piles of unsorted waste. This causes huge problems. There is no way to control the incineration process if the waste is all mixed up like this. Liquids like blood and IV fluid can really affect the temperatures, so waste like that needs to be monitor. Blood clearly would burn differently from plastic syringes which burns much differently that things like surgical drapes.

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