Today’s Solutions: May 25, 2024

For everyone’s health and safety, we must accept that Covid-19 tests are a part of our reality. Luckily, as time goes on, we’ve developed strategies to make administering these tests as convenient and hassle-free as possible. There are now low-cost tests that produce results in five minutes or less and tests that can be delivered straight to your home via DoorDash. Scientists have even developed AI that can detect Covid-19 just based on the sound of your cough.

And now, a team at the Laboratory of BioNanoTechnology at Wageningen University & Research have developed an at-home, self-administered Covid-19 test out of the discarded aluminum shell of Nespresso pods.

The researchers have dubbed this modified version of a loop-mediated isothermal amplification or LAMP test, the “CoroNaspresso.” The tests are made by filling empty Nespresso capsules with around six grams of wax, a paraffin-based phase-change material, or PCM. A foam circle is fitted around the lip of the pod, which is then dropped into a pot of hot water. The foam keeps the Nespresso capsule from sinking as the water melts the wax.

Once the wax is melted, you place a 3D-printed plastic test tube holder into the top opening. Once you put a little test tube in each hole, your Nespresso Covid-19 test is ready for use. The researchers decided on Nespresso coffee pods because they are made of aluminum, a great heat conductor.

The CoroNaspreso is still in its experimental phase, so there are a few bugs that need to be ironed out. For instance, Nespresso pods are easily purchased, but Rubitherm RT64HC (the wax used to make the molds) is not and nor is the 3D-printed holder. Still, with more work, this could be a great approach to reducing waste, especially since the pandemic has generated so much more waste, from disposable masks to vaccine needles.

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