Tech Transfer eNews Blog

MIT will release free plans to build inexpensive emergency ventilators for COVID-19 patients

By Jesse Schwartz
Published: April 1st, 2020

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is addressing the lack of hospital ventilators for patients with COVID-19 by posting free plans online for a device that can be built for $100.

A research team known as MIT E-Vent is developing a simple, inexpensive emergency ventilator that features a hand-operated plastic resuscitator pouch called an Ambu bag, which hospitals already have on hand in large quantities. The researchers are devising a mechanical system to do the squeezing and releasing of the Ambu bag, thus turning it into a makeshift ventilator that doesn’t have to be constantly operated or monitored.

While they continue to work on the technology, the E-Vent researchers have released a design that can be immediately operated manually. However, the team stresses that the project is not intended for inexperienced do-it-yourselfers, since a poor construction could lead to failure of the device, which could be fatal.

“We are releasing design guidance — clinical, mechanical, electrical/controls, testing — on a rolling basis as it is developed and documented,” says one team member. “We encourage capable clinical-engineering teams to work with their local resources, while following the main specs and safety information, and we welcome any input other teams may have.”

The team says there is enough detailed information on their website to enable other teams to work in parallel with them. They’ve also posted links to other teams that are working on similar design efforts.

According to one team member, the key to development has been working with a cross-disciplinary group of researchers.

“The most exciting times and when the team is really moving fast are when we have a design engineer sitting next to a controls engineer, sitting next to the fabrication expert, with an anesthesiologist on WebEx, all solid modeling, coding, and spreadsheeting in parallel,” he says. “We are discussing the details of everything from ways to track patients’ vital signs data to the best sources for small electric motors. We all work together, and ultimately the goal is to help people, because people’s lives understandably hang in the balance.”

Source: SciTechDaily

Posted under: Tech Transfer e-News

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