PInChPitt Innovation Challenge 2021

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The O2 Cube

Respiratory Health Medical device Oxygen
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  • Pediatric pneumonia is the leading cause of death in the world for children under 5 years old, resulting in ~800,000 deaths per year.
  • An estimated 50,000 rural healthcare facilities worldwide require medical oxygen to adequately serve a population of roughly 1.2 billion people.
  • The O2 Cube is a solar-powered ‘micro-oxygen-production system’, built from off-the-shelf materials, capable of producing life-saving oxygen for patients in these rural healthcare settings.
  • PInCh funding will develop an integrated enclosure and data acquisition capability to provide a more reliable and durable smart-device than the existing prototype.


Increasing oxygen access in low-resource countries improves pediatric pneumonia mortality and is crucial for rural care preparedness. Particularly of note during the COVID-19 pandemic, supplemental oxygen is the single-most important element in treatment.

Barriers faced by these rural health facilities include the high cost of supplemental oxygen, unreliable or non-existent electricity, minimal training, and a harsh operating environment for their medical equipment including heat, humidity and dust.


The O2 Cube brings medical oxygen to these rural health facilities by using proven off-the-shelf technologies integrated into a single, reliable solar-powered oxygen production system enclosed in a durable casing to protect against the harsh environment. The O2 Cube will work for both rural health centers that lack grid electricity and rural hospitals that need a cost-effective and reliable backup source of oxygen.

Components of the prototype design include an oxygen concentrator, a compression filling station, a solar energy sub-system, and a micro-controller that that collects operational performance and manages the system. A prototype is currently being deployed for use internationally to meet demands of the COVID-19 pandemic.

PInCh funding is needed to design an integrated enclosure to protect the system components and add data acquisition and transmission functions. Projected manufacturing costs at scale are $7,500 with an average selling price of $15,000, making it a cost-effective solution in comparison to other oxygen sources.

Path to Impact Plan

Hundreds of thousands of individuals die of respiratory diseases every year in developing nations. These basic off-the-shelf technologies, when applied in a novel way, could prevent many of these deaths. It is our vision that the O2 Cube can work to save millions of lives throughout the developing world as a cost-effective, sustainable solution.

Post-PInCh, further engineering and manufacturing will take place to develop a more efficient system designed for this specific application and designed for scalability to escalate the social impact on the world.

The two primary classes of customers for the O2 Cube include:

  1. Ministries of health and private faith-based healthcare systems in developing nations that are expanding access to medical oxygen for their citizens/patients, with funding from public-private partnerships and international aid organizations such as USAID, UNICEF  and the Clinton Health Access Initiative.

  2. Service providers who are selling Oxygen-as-a-Service to hospitals, health centers and individuals, supported by leading organizations such as the Gates Foundation and Philips.


  • Mark Adkins (Pitt Center for Medical Innovation) is the CEO of company LeanMed, leading new product development and deployment.
  • Kilichan Gurleyik, D.Sc (Pitt Department of Bioengineering) will coordinate electronic integration and design.
  • Jessica Starck is the program manager for LeanMed responsible for the operational coordination and progression of project plan.
  • Zexi Liu (PhD student at CMU) will lead the development of the O2 Cube’s embedded system and sensor circuits.

Do you have any questions, feedback, or suggested contacts for the team?