Electrical switching & drive systems & components


Ventilator from windscreen wiper parts

1 April 2020 Electrical switching & drive systems & components

A research team at The University of Texas at Austin is building a ventilator made of cheap, widely available materials to help fill the demand created by the spread of COVID-19 for these critical devices that help patients breathe. Ventilators become necessary when patients cannot breathe on their own, physically pumping oxygen into their lungs, and they are in short supply. The researchers are building a ‘bridge ventilator’ that can be replicated and mass produced by others.

The device, called the Austin Bridge Breathing Unit, uses a manual resuscitator, a common handheld device with an artificial medical breathing unit (AMBU) bag. It fills up with oxygen to help patients breathe. However, a medical professional must repeatedly squeeze the bag to help patients inhale the oxygen − a challenge when medical personnel across the country are stretched thin due to the coronavirus.

The researchers needed a way to automatically compress the bag to get oxygen to patients, and they found it in a windscreen wiper motor pulled from a Toyota Camry. The team repurposed the motor to power a small caster wheel that pushes down on the bag to control oxygen flow. Four potentiometers control the respiration rate, the volume of oxygen given to patients, the time period to inhale and the maximum pressure.

The team came up with the idea to use the motor during a brainstorming session. The advantages of these motors are that they are available, reliable and inexpensive. They are extensively tested as part of the automobile production process. To quickly figure out the motor, the team worked with a local mechanic. The team is currently testing the prototype on a manikin from the university’s Dell Medical School and test lungs provided by UT Health San Antonio.

Once the prototype is checked, the researchers will provide an open licence to the design so anyone can make their own low-cost, reliable ventilator. Along with a team from Dell Medical School, they are also talking with several manufacturing partners about quickly building at least 2000 ventilators.

The device’s components are all regulated individually, so the team hopes approval can come in a matter of weeks rather than months. Just recently, the FDA issued an Emergency Use Authorisation protocol to speed production of ventilators and other respiratory devices.

“The problem is that when ICUs fill up, there are no more ventilators,” said Thomas Milner, a professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering in the Cockrell School of Engineering, who is leading the project. “And you can’t bring in new ICU beds because you don’t have the ventilators. Essentially, we are replacing the human hand that would normally depress against the bag to inject oxygen into the patient’s lungs,” he said.

For more information contact https://tinyurl.com/u5oaa2d




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