Supported by a NSF and DOE grant, a trial of the unit holds promise of big advance for those who rely on life-saving equipment
Brooke Ellison draws her own power from will, but the ventilator that keeps her alive requires uninterrupted electricity. Dr. Ellison, Director of Education and Ethics at Stony Brook University’s Stem Cell Research Facility and Associate Director of the Center for Community Engagement and Leadership Development, is allowing scientists to field-test, at her home, the Nextek Power Systems STAR, a mobile solar generator with battery storage. The testing focuses on potential equipment changes needed to secure FDA approval as a medical-grade, uninterrupted, clean-energy power resource for emergency situations like Superstorm Sandy or other disastrous events when power outages are rampant.
Stony Brook is teaming with Dynamic Supplier Alignment, Inc. (DSA)—under a National Science Foundation and Department of Energy grant—to conduct the trial at Dr. Ellison’s home. The team is led by Principal Investigator Dr. Miriam Rafailovich, Distinguished Professor in the Department of Materials Science, and Wayne Gutschow, Vice President of Engineering for Nextek Power Systems. With the help of colleagues at the SBU Advanced Energy Research & Technology Center (AERTC) and SBU engineering students, the group will test the device to identify the minimum amount of storage needed to sustain the home’s critical loads during periods when the grid, conventional fossil-fuel generator, and solar power are not available.
“People who depend on mechanical ventilators—breathing machines—for survival are severely impacted by prolonged power outages,” says Dr. Ellison, who is paralyzed from the neck down from a childhood accident. “Vent-dependent individuals rely on power for their every breath. Technologies like this will have a direct impact on their safety and survival,” adds Dr. Ellison, who also cofounded the Stony Brook University VENTure think tank, an initiative in which SBU researchers and faculty volunteer time to work on projects and develop ideas for ventilator users.
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