Illinois RapidVent emergency ventilator was developed in less than a week
A team led by the University of Illinois’ Grainger College of Engineering and Carle Health has produced a prototype emergency ventilator to help address the expected surge in the need for respiratory care associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Find out more about the prototype here.
“Our team is living the Apollo 13 movie,” said William King, the overall project leader and a professor of Mechanical Science and Engineering. “We have dropped everything else to work around the clock to help respond to the COVID-19 crisis.
“We have a team of brilliant and dedicated people that made something that actually works in less than one week. It’s very inspiring. We hope that we can engage even more people to work on the global response to COVID-19 as we continue to develop the prototype.”
The Illinois RapidVent, as the emergency ventilator is known, would plug into the oxygen source available in most hospital rooms or could plug into a tank of oxygen. The prototype has run for more than 75 hours, which is more than 125,000 breathing cycles. Over this time, the device delivered the amount of oxygen necessary and the pressure that patients would need when they are unable to breathe well enough on their own. So far, focused testing in the laboratory shows that the device performs as well as commercial products, which are in very short supply. The U.S. is experiencing a massive shortage of ventilators — most acutely in New York — that numbers in the thousands.
The team is collaborating with doctors and medical professionals on an ongoing basis to refine the design and make usability improvements, based on an evaluation of about a half-dozen existing products. A prototype was created using high-end additive manufacturing equipment and then tested at the University of Illinois and at Champaign-based Creative Thermal Solutions. Team members are also addressing necessary institutional and regulatory approvals for using the emergency ventilator and ramping up animal testing.
The next step will be identifying partners and resources to produce the Illinois RapidVent at scale.
The team draws together engineers, doctors, medical professionals, designers, user-experience experts, and manufacturing experts from industry. More than 40 people have been at work day and night on the project since it launched on March 16, 2020.
Partners in the Illinois RapidVent project include faculty and researchers from across the University of Illinois, its Grainger College of Engineering, its Siebel Center for Design, its Applied Research Institute, Carle Health, Tekmill, and Creative Thermal Solutions, Inc.
While a few small groups have met in person to test devices, the team is respecting social distancing and has met almost exclusively over video conference.
The UI isn’t the only group working to solve the problem. A group of MIT engineers this week designed and submitted to the Food and Drug Administration a ventilator made out of a bag valve mask (aka Ambu-Bags) and readily available electronics, actuators and motors. Bag valve masks are already in every hospital bed.
Federal regulations have been adjusted to deal with the COVID-19 crisis. The Department of Health and Human Services issued a liability immunity for medical tools that potentially could help with the epidemic.
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