GMIT engineering staff develop emergency mechanical ventilator for Covid-19 patients

'System is designed out of bio-grade, readily available, laser cut material, and can be built anywhere or by anyone'

Staff at the GMIT School of Engineering have designed and developed a new type of emergency ventilator which can be produced rapidly and inexpensively to assist the medics in the treatment of COIVD-19 patients.

The development of this new ventilator comes as demand for ventilator production generally is expected to increase, following claims by experts that new waves of Covid outbreaks are likely.

"The ventilator automates the squeezing of a manual Bag-Valve-Mask resuscitator, so that it can act as a rudimentary ventilator to aid a person breathing, or to replicate some basic ventilation functions,” explains the GMIT's Dr Oliver Mulryan. “The system is designed out of bio-grade, readily available, and laser cut material, so it can be built anywhere or by anyone as a last resort if needed.”

'Often the cost of purchasing license for software to program automation systems makes simple projects unviable. We wanted to make it possible for anyone to recreate our ventilator'

The GMIT is one of numerous teams, nationally and internationally, working towards finding an alternative solution to the anticipated global demand as, currently, certified ventilators can cost tens of thousands of euro. “Ultimately, our objective is to make the calibrated device open source, pending regulatory and Governmental approval," Dr Mulryan said.

The GMIT team is led by Dr Mulryan and James Boyle, head of the Advanced Craft Certificate Programme for Electrical Installation, along with a the team including Pat Cassidy (Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering ), David McDonnell and Dr Alan Hannon (Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering ).

GMIT ventilator prototype

GMIT prototype ventilator component. Photo courtesy of GMIT Engineering staff.

In conjunction with Collins Plastics, which is based in Mayo, the GMIT have developed a low-cost prototype and it is in the process of automating and controlling the device so it can interact with both the physician and patient for assisted breathing.

“Often the cost of purchasing licences for software to program automation systems makes simple projects unviable. We wanted to make it possible for anyone to recreate our ventilator," said James Boyle, head of the Advanced Craft Certificate Programme for Electrical Installation, GMIT.

"The automation system was designed with low-cost controllers that can be programmed using open-source software. The breathing cycle and air volume delivery is fully controllable using simple rotary dial controls. We have also included pressure monitoring, which can be applied to BVMs that have a manometer port.”

 

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