From mosquitoes to blood for soldiers, Bezalel students take aim at world woes

From mosquitoes to blood for soldiers, Bezalel students take aim at world woes

Industrial Design department at the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design holds exhibition of graduate projects that aim to revolutionize our lives

Illustration of a soldier using BCarrier at an exhibition of graduates at the Bezalel  Academy of Arts and Design; July 18, 2018 (Ariella Gentin/Times of Israel)
Illustration of a soldier using BCarrier at an exhibition of graduates at the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design; July 18, 2018 (Ariella Gentin/Times of Israel)

A 28-year-old graduate of the Bezalel’s Industrial Design school, Yehuda Hermann, believes he may have found a way to solve the humanitarian crisis created by disease-carrying mosquitoes.

Every year, some 750,000 people die from mosquito-borne diseases around the world. In the past, chemical disinfectants have been used to kill these pests en masse, but the chemicals cause harm to the water, animals, and even human beings in the surrounding areas, noted Hermann.

So, he decided to try something else. He developed a biological pesticide, called Biosive, that infects the mosquitoes without affecting the surrounding ecosystem.

Female mosquitoes are attracted to carbon dioxide because it signals the presence of a living entity that contains proteins, which they need before they lay their eggs. Hermann has built a container that emits carbon dioxide to attract the mosquitoes. Inside the container, the he has inserted a material containing the Bacillus bacteria, which is a pesticide for mosquito larvae. As the mosquito flies out of the container, “like a bee in a flower” that picks up pollen, the mosquito becomes a carrier of the pesticide.

Yehuda Hermann, a graduate of the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, posing in front of his stand featuring Biosive at an exhibition in Jerusalem; July 18, 2018 (Ariella Gentin/Times of Israel)

After leaving the container, the mosquito will go on to lay eggs, which it does on water. Because the mosquito is infected with the bacteria, the larvae die a few hours after being born.

What’s special about Hermann’s technology, he said, is that the whole area within a radius of 250 meters (around 800 feet) from where the mosquito laid its eggs becomes a deathbed for all future larvae, because the pesticide dissolves into the water in which the mosquito laid her eggs. If other mosquitoes lay eggs in those waters, their larvae will also die in a few hours.

Hermann intends to place the containers inside garbage cans, because that way, when people take out their garbage, they can refill the containers with the biological material, if needed. Garbage cans are also advantageous because they are low to the ground, which is close to where mosquitoes live.

Hermann’s project was one of many exhibited by students of the Industrial Design department of the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem. at the culmination of a four-year program devoted to teaching students to develop real, hands-on solutions to contemporary problems, with the intent of changing the way we live our lives.

The projects spanned the gamut of subjects, some of them “deeply rooted in the near, familiar and industrial present… while some set sail for new and futuristic realms,” said Safi Hefetz, the head of the Industrial Design department, in a statement describing the exhibition.

One of the fungi-grown loudspeakers from Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design graduate Kevin Allouche’s project, July 18, 2018 (Ariella Gentin/Times of Israel)

The walls of the Industrial Design section of the university are covered with the students’ technologies and designs. Some of the forty projects included a semi-autonomous motorbike, a loudspeaker system made out of fungi to play music, and the beginnings of a mobile “smell bar,” where users smell different scents to create a feeling of being somewhere else. For instance, the “beach venue” has watermelon, sweat, sand, and salty ocean smells, virtually transporting the user to the seaside.

The exhibition will run until August 3 at Bezalel’s Mount Scopus campus and is open to public.

Twenty-six year old Netta Shanwald showed off her project at the exhibition: the BCarrier, a blood transportation kit meant to assist special forces operating in military zones.

The number one cause of death in the Israeli army is loss of blood in the time between when a soldier is injured and when the soldier gets to the hospital for treatment, explained Shanwald. Carrying blood around in the army can be problematic because it needs to be stored at about four degrees Celsius (39 degrees Fahrenheit), but when utilized, the blood needs to be warmed to body temperature.

Usually, the blood is stored in coolers, while a separate device is generally used to warm up the blood. Carrying around all of those containers can, however, be cumbersome.

Additionally, blood is sometimes wasted, because once it is released to an army unit it is often not taken back by the blood bank, which assumes that at some point the blood will have exceeded the proper temperature and become unusable.

Netta Shanwald, a graduate of the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design posing in front of her stand featuring the BCarrier, July 18, 2018 (Ariella Gentin/Times of Israel)

So Shanwald has created a kit that she says could both keep the blood cool and heat it up to the appropriate temperature when needed.

The BCarrier has two compartments: one to cool the blood, and one to heat it, all in the same container. The blood, stored in a tube, stays cold because of cooling strips Shanwald has created that work in a similar way to NanoCool. NanoCool, used by FedEx, is an evaporative cooling technology in the form of a white plastic box that evaporates water over time to keep packages cold.

Shanwald’s strips use that same type of technology to keep the blood cold in the BCarrier.  The user takes the strip and breaks it like a glow stick, which generates cold air. Once the strips are put into the compartment, the cold lasts for 24 hours, after which the user can put in more strips and keep the blood cold for more time, if needed.

Sample of watermelon smell from Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design graduate Matan Rosen’s Smell Tour project, July 18, 2018 (Ariella Gentin/The Times of Israel)

When soldiers wants to heat up the blood, they pull open the top part of the device, and a new compartment is exposed with buttons that heat up the blood. When the button is pressed, the tube with the blood is heated up with electricity, generated by a battery. Because that compartment is completely hidden until the soldier opens it up, there is no concern that the heating device will be activated in a soldier’s bag before the time the blood is needed, explained Shanwald.

The device also has a screen that displays the temperature at which the blood has been stored, so that blood doesn’t get unnecessarily thrown away.

The IDF knows about Shanwald’s device because she worked with officers to create it, she said. But she does not know when or if the IDF will use her technology, due to the expense and other factors.

Still, she hopes that the technology will be able to save lives in the future.

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