This invention by a British student could save millions of lives across the world

By Michael Baggs
Newsbeat reporter

Image source, Will Broadway

A 22-year-old British student has invented a mobile fridge that could save millions of lives across the world.

Will Broadway's "Isobar" has been designed to keep vaccines at the ideal temperature while in transit in developing countries.

And Will doesn't plan to make money from his creation.

His focus is to get it to people who need it, which is why he won't be trying to get a patent.

"I make things every day for people who have everything," Will, an industrial design and technology graduate from Loughborough University, tells Newsbeat.

"I wanted to make something for people who have next to nothing. It should be a basic human right, in my opinion, to have a vaccination.

"I don't think that it should be patented to restrict use."

Will's Isobar has won him the annual James Dyson Award, open to students across the world with a simple brief - design something that solves a problem.

Current methods of transporting vaccines can result in the vaccines freezing before reaching their destination in countries where poverty and conflict are major obstacles.

The device maintains a steady two to eight degrees for 30 days. It works by heating ammonia and water to create ammonia vapours, which are then released into its main chamber when cooling is needed.

Will was inspired to start work on a portable refrigeration unit in 2012 when he visited Cambodia and parts of south east Asia.

"These trips sparked an interest," he says.

"It pushed me. Something needs to be solved for this major issue."

Image source, Will Broadway
Image caption,
Will Broadway's ISOBAR could save 1.5 million people a year

Having previously worked at a medical device consultancy, Will has first-hand experience of how large companies monetise life-saving products.

"Medical products have such a big mark up that it's unreasonable for people around the world to purchase these items," he says.

"If it is the best thing available, then it should be out there saving lives."

It has been estimated that Will's invention could save the lives of 1.5 million people across the world, a number he says is "astonishing".

Having now finished his degree, his focus is taking the Isobar into production - something he plans to oversee.

"I would be hands on, all the way through it, knowing that it works," he says.

Media caption,
William Broadway explains how the vaccine cooler he designed works.

"It's amazing to just give it a go, even in my back yard, and see the potential of the technology."

The product has been designed to transport vaccines, but already Broadway sees potential for other medical uses in the developing world and beyond.

"Blood donations, organ transplants - if they get stuck in traffic, you still use cold-packs that really aren't adequate for long periods of time," he says.

There is also a potential, non-medical use for Isobar which could be monetised in the Western world.

"It's risky but but there is potential for commercial cooling. It would be a great thing to take on a five day trip where you have no power," he says.

But he insists vaccine delivery is the primary function of his invention.

"It has been applied to what is hopefully the right avenue for the technology."

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