Usage of Solar Energy in the Field of Dentistry

Globally, the demand for energy is growing at a rapid pace and has surpassed the limits of production. Every sector is in need for a constant supply of power, and the field of medicine is no exception. In an attempt to meet its rising energy needs, the global healthcare sector is fast moving from fossil fuels to renewable alternatives. Consider Florida, for example. In the recent times, the use of renewable energy in Tampa and other places in Florida has increased significantly.  More and more hospitals in the Sunshine State are harnessing the solar power. The state even pioneered the utilization of solar energy in dentistry. However, the US is not the only country in the world to use solar technologies for better oral healthcare.  ‘Green dentistry’ has become the slogan for many dental clinics around the world. Let us explore how solar energy has helped in the advancements made in the field of dentistry worldwide.

Solar Hybrid Air Conditioner

A facility in Port Charlotte, Florida, has become the first dental clinic in the US to go solar to cool down its interiors. It has installed a five-ton hybrid air conditioning unit that comes with a solar rooftop panel. This hybrid air conditioning system collects the heat of the sun with the help of the solar panel. It then converts the heat into energy that warms or refrigerates the air and allows it to bypass the compressor completely. Moreover, it uses a heat pump in place of the standard electric coils. Unlike the photovoltaic solar panels, this solar air conditioner does not need direct sunlight constantly. Just place it under the direct sunlight for four hours, and it can run for four days in a row.

Solar-Powered Autoclave

This is the first use of a new and revolutionary solar technology in the field of medicine to kill germs and disinfect dental instruments. This device can turn water into steam without even waiting for the entire container of water to boil. A solar autoclave uses broadband light absorbing nano-particles that can quickly convert solar energy to steam in an aqueous solution. These particles use more than 80 percent of the sun’s absorbed energy to produce the steam. The nano-particle dispersants increase the temperature of the liquid as well as the steam rapidly. When a solar concentrator like dish mirror or Fresnel lens is used to deliver sunlight into the nano-particle dispersed aqueous solution, it quickly heats the particles. A layer of steam is formed on the nano-particles that apply buoyant force to carry them to the surface. These particles release the steam surrounding them and again sink to repeat the process. This method can deliver steam at a temperature range of 115 to 135 degree Celsius within five minutes in a volume of 14.2 liters for a period that is sufficient for sterilization of dental instruments. The steam produces enough heat and pressure to kill microbes, viruses, and spores that survive hostile environmental conditions.

Solar Powered Portable Dental Kit

It is a portable and self-contained dental system that contains a chargeable battery for micrometer-handpiece and foot control. It is helpful for those dentists who provide services in the rural and the remote areas such as the villages deep inside the Amazon rainforest or hamlets high up in the Himalayas. The built-in solar panels capture the sun’s energy and use it to power the entire system. The US Army and the US Marine Corps have been using these units since the mid-1990s. Solar Powered Mobile Dental and Medical Clinic-cum-School

This mobile dental truck uses solar power to provide health services to the people living in secluded locations across Africa. This seven-meter truck has compartments for eye tests, hearing diagnostics, blood tests, and dental check-up. The truck’s dental clinic is provided with a dental chair, a water distiller, a needle incinerator, and an X-ray unit. The vehicle’s lighting is charged by the solar panels on it. Along with health services, it also provides education to people with the help of a solar-powered Internet school. The mobile school receives nine hours of power every day, thanks to the solar panels that work 24 hours a day.

Solar Powered Toothbrush

Simply put, this is a toothbrush that is powered by the solar energy. Invented by Dr. Yoshinori Nakagaina, the first model was later designed by Dr. Kunio Komiyama. A newer model of such a toothbrush known as Soladey-J3X comes complete with a solar panel and a titanium dioxide semiconductor. When exposed to sunlight, the photosensitive TiO2 rods convert light into negative ions that blend with saliva and help decompose and remove dental plaque. It also works well on dental stains and can even clean dentures and braces. This brush also has an antibacterial effect against Streptococcus mutans and Escherichia coli.

Solar Powered Production of Plaster of Paris

Plaster of Paris plays an important role in the field of dentistry. Dentists require Plaster of Paris for various tooth repairing jobs like tooth filling and root canal treatments. They prefer Plaster of Paris that is whiter and necessitates a low setting time. Solar energy has found its way in the production of Plaster of Paris. How? Solar energy helps in the calcination process by providing the required heat. The Plaster of Paris produced by using solar power is superior in quality as compared to the one that is manufactured using coal, wood, or diesel as the heat source and is thus high in demand in the field of dentistry.

Just like every field, oral care sector, too, is trying to use the sun’s power to execute many of its operations. Thanks to Florida’s pioneering step, dentists all over the globe are harnessing this renewable energy today. If you, too, want to green up your dental practice, follow in their footsteps. It will even be easier for you to adopt renewable energy if you live in Tampa or any other sun-kissed US states. Every step taken today to embrace alternative energy will contribute toward building a greener future.

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A techno-geek, Olivia started working as a writer back in early 2000's and then has worked in various editorial capacities at a number of national technology publications. Currently a professional business and technology writer, she is also passionate about green issues. She has a unique perspective on environment, having actively engaged in nationwide campaigns and a number of research projects. She always has her finger on the pulse as far as tech innovations are concerned.

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