The first fully solar-powered mobile medical clinic is going to Clemson University’s Joseph F. Sullivan Center in South Carolina. The new mobile clinic, designed by Wyoming’s Odulair, will allow the university to serve underserved and largely rural areas of South Carolina. The clinic will operate without the need for a generator or fuel to power its services, other than the fuel needed to drive the clinic to a location.
The mobile clinic offers immediate care and screenings for breast and cervical cancer. It uses Odulair’s Solanda Mobile Solar Power System, which includes solar panels on the vehicle’s rooftop and a 48-volt lithium ion battery pack to store excess energy. To maximize efficiency the mobile clinic’s heating and air-conditioning system is a DC system which Odulair said is up to 30 percent more efficient than standard AC heating and cooling system.
“It’s critical that the state make it possible for organizations like the Sullivan Center to bring health care to folks who need it most,” said South Carolina State Sen. Thomas Alexander (R), who championed the creation of the mobile clinic to serve rural areas. “The state should support any mission that leads to better health outcomes, and the preventative and educational components provided by mobile clinics have proven time and again to do just that.” The senator said he hoped the mobile clinic will become a model for other organizations.
“The benefit of a mobile clinic is twofold: it allows the center to effectively reach underserved communities and demonstrate to Clemson students the unique challenges in the care of vulnerable patients,” said Dr. Paula Watt, director of the Sullivan Center. “We did immeasurable homework on what we wanted because this will be a rolling billboard for Clemson University and the outreach it provides. This vehicle is truly a dream come true for me and our staff.”
The new clinic is the world’s first mobile clinic to run solely on solar power, according to Odulair. Solar power has been used in other health clinics to provide power for operations, as in Haiti and some mobile clinics have used solar power, like the 2013 mobile clinic launched by Samsung in Africa. Odulair said that the solar power for that clinic powered its lights, television and small appliances. The majority of the equipment on the Samsung clinic required an onboard generator or access to an outlet.
“I think we’ve all dreamed of using solar power in this way for a long time, but the technology is finally at a stage where it can be useful,” said Dr. Anita Chambers, CEO of Odulair. “Mobile clinics are required to sit in farm fields or other remote locations for eight or more hours a day, so the use of solar power is a huge improvement. Eliminating the generator as the power source eliminates the noise, vibration, and noxious unhealthy fumes; it also significantly reduces the mobile clinic maintenance and annual operations costs.”
The clinic also offers Clemson students a learning opportunity. “Our educational mission is to see students truly embody the Clemson determined spirit due to these experiences,” Watt said. “They will rise to the challenges faced by the individuals this clinic serves and lead the way to improved health care across our state and beyond.”
Such mobile clinics could also be important in disaster recovery. Solar already has proven useful in such situations, providing mobile command and recovery centers that allow people to charge mobile devices, get relief from the disaster and provide refrigeration for medicines.Tweet