Date of Award


Document Type



Santa Clara : Santa Clara University, 2016.


Mechanical Engineering

First Advisor

Timothy Hight


According to a 2014 World Health Organization research initiative based on data collected from 14 global developing countries, “Only 28% of health facilities and 34% of hospitals had what could be called “reliable” access to electricity (without prolonged interruptions in one week)” [1]. Healthcare quality suffers because of this lack of reliable electricity. We propose that a gravity powered generator would stand as a reliable power source for small medical devices under any conditions at any location at any time of day. Our research examines how a gravity powered electric generator could best empower medical facilities in developing countries to provide improved healthcare. Our research has shown that most often, the greatest needs at these facilities are dependent upon an inadequate power supply, including lighting for emergency night-time care, refrigeration for blood and vaccines, facilities for sterilization, and electricity for simple medical devices [1]. We have chosen to focus on providing power for small devices as well as lighting. A successful charger must be lightweight, durable, and reliably provides dc power congruent with USB charging specifications. Testing has revealed a proof of concept, in that we were able to produce USB power from a mockup of the intended design, and further iterations of the charger will improve charge time per use. Initially, those seeking medical attention will be the main beneficiaries of our device; however, we expect the gravity generator project to expand if visitors see that our device could replace fossil or other solid fuel consuming device, such as kerosene lanterns, in their homes.