A group of four girls from Rochester, New York have developed an ingenious, low-tech method for pasteurizing milk to make sure it’s safe for human consumption. The group, calling themselves the Hippie Pandas, heard about the plight of women being sickened by unsafe milk in Nicaragua from a relative in the Peace Corps and decided to create an easy way for people in rural areas to pasteurize their milk.
The invention is simple – by laying a piece of aluminum foil over cardboard or a woven mat, they’re able to reflect the sun and generate heat. A black receptacle holding the milk absorbs the heat. After 30 minutes of exposure at 145 degrees, harmful pathogens in the milk are killed, helping prevent diseases such as tuberculosis, and prevent potential miscarriages.
Initially, the Hippie Pandas were monitoring their project with a thermometer – but when they realized that people in undeveloped areas might not have access to a thermometer, they came up with an alternate solution. They covered the container with beeswax, and found that when it had fully melted, the pasteurization process was complete. Here’s a video of the girls explaining how their invention works:
Their idea won them the 1st place Gracious Professionalism Award at the 2012 For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) Championship in St Louis earlier this month. Their invention is already being used in Nicaragua, with plans to introduce it in other countries soon.
Photo credit: Youtube Screen Capture