Electrical Incinerator for HMW Disposal

EPA Grant Number: SU836783
Title: Electrical Incinerator for HMW Disposal
Investigators: Rollins, Andrew M
Institution: Case Western Reserve University
EPA Project Officer: Klieforth, Barbara I
Phase: I
Project Period: November 1, 2016 through October 31, 2017 (Extended to October 31, 2018)
Project Amount: $15,000
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2016) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Sustainable and Healthy Communities , P3 Awards , P3 Challenge Area - Chemical Safety


Develop an electric, safe, low cost and sustainable incineration device and sharps segregation canister for the disintegrating biohazardous stainless steel needles to reduce the hazardous medical waste (HMW) disposal burden in developing regions of Uganda.


The state of hazardous medical waste (HMW) disposal in Uganda and other developing nations is dire and deserves urgent attention. Some efforts have been made by large aid organizations to alleviate this issue. However, resources are still in short supply and this burden remains too large to be shouldered by custodial workers at rural health centers. USAID has thus identified safe handling, transporting, treatment, and disposal options for hazardous waste as a priority for Uganda’s health care system.

This project aims to reduce the HMW disposal burden in developing regions of Uganda, specifically hazardous stainless steel sharps, including syringe needles. This project also develops and strengthens a collaboration between engineering and social science students at Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) in Cleveland, Ohio, and Makerere University in Kampala (MUK), Uganda.


We propose to develop an electrically powered, safe, low cost and sustainable incineration device and sharps segregation canister for the disintegration of biohazardous stainless steel needles. The device will be designed to be usable in a wide array of health centers (HC). In our preliminary field research in Luwero, Uganda, sharps segregation in HCs was identified as a significant challenge to the waste disposal workflow. Therefore, our proposed solution includes a handheld sharps disposal canister which safely removes the hazardous steel needles from syringes and collects them for disposal and incineration in a separate, electrically powered incinerator.

We believe that successful development and field testing of our proposed solution will require an interdisciplinary and international collaboration. This collaboration has been initiated, and builds upon a long term relationship between CWRU and MUK. This project will benefit from the collaboration, and also significantly strengthen the collaboration.

Expected Results:

Successful development and deployment of the proposed device is expected to reduce the health risk to patients, custodial workers, medical personnel and surrounding communities posed by the current practice of open burning of medical waste, including hazardous sharps.

The collaboration between CWRU and MUK, strengthened and expanded under this project, is expected to continue, and to provide a sustained benefit to students at both institutions, as well as a continuing pipeline of appropriate medical technology for Uganda.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 6 publications for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

Medical waste, collaboration;

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2017 Progress Report
  • Final Report