The problem our project solves
The project solves the problem of single use protective equipment for medical personnel that comes into direct contact with Covid-19, such as Intensive Care Unit doctors or nurses.
The solution we bring to the table
We have developed a PAPR (Powered Air Purifying Respirator) system which can be used with either existing respirator hoods or with a make-shift hood from Tychem medical grade material used in protective overalls. Our solution uses ready available parts all housed in a 3d printed case.
For this project we ordered a ULPA class U15 filter encased in a steel frame. This type of filter is used in hospitals and sensitive environments due to its filtration capabilities of 99.9995% of airborne particles over 0.1 microns.
When designing the device, we used the NIOSH CFR Title 42, Part 84 standards for PAPR certification in choosing our blower fan, batteries and filtration system. One big advantage is the low cost of all the parts which is under 150 € for low orders, with possibility of cost reduction when buying in bulk, as well as rapid production if necessary. For comparison, the 3M Versaflo TR-600 PAPR system is 1.115 $ according to Sheffield Pottery.
What we have done during the weekend
We have been working on this project for about 2 weeks, and in this weekend we polished the design and printed our first prototype. We have also looked into more laboratories to test out our first prototype.
The solution’s impact to the crisis
If used correctly, our PAPR system should help with the reduction of the probability of coronavirus infection among health care workers. This solution is already used in hospitals, but we can bring a cheaper and faster to market solution.
The necessities in order to continue the project
We have grouped our to-do list in the following categories:
- Further improvements
- Approval from Romanian government
- Hospital trials
- Identifying most critical deployment points
- Finding funds for mass-production
When designing the prototype, we used the technical specifications of the individual components, and while the working prototype behaves as expected (at least 8 hours of battery life and good flow that permits easy breathing even during more intense tasks), we still need to get real laboratory validation. For this we have partnered with University of Sibiu’s Engineering Department to test the following:
- Air flow (liters/min), static pressure (mmH2O)
- Noise level of the unit at various air flows (dB)
- Battery life and charging time (already tested, but we want another confirmation)
- Temperature of working components and of overall unit while running at different air flows (℃)
We still need to find a laboratory that can test:
- Filtration capacity of our filters (while certified, we want to be sure that they work well with our system)
- Mixture of gas inside the hood
- Mechanical stress test
- Drop test
For this we have contacted Bosch and Philips, but we are also looking to reach out to more partners willing to help.
While our prototype is at version 1, we want to further improve the design and have the following features in a large run production:
- Better pre-filtering material
- A solution to change the pre-filter easier
- Inter-changeable batteries
- Custom made PCB for a more compact and efficient electronical system
- Low battery buzzer and sound alarm
- IP rating certification
- Class I Hazardous Area certification
Approval from Romanian Government and CE certification
Next week we will start the necessary steps to get approval from Romanian Government using their fast track procedure number PO-02512-20.02-003 for Covid-19 Spread Prevention Products. We are also researching the best approach for CE certification as well as IP protection.
For hospital trials, we already have interested parties at the Hospital of Brașov, to whom we will send 2 test devices, one with ULPA class U15 filter and one with HEPA class H14 filter. They will test the fit, long-term wear and analyse possible improvements which we didn’t consider due to lack of advanced medical expertise.
Identifying most critical deployment points
For this we are working with a civic initiative called PlanB, which is a volunteer platform that specialises in producing materials such as visors and snorkel mask adapters for healthcare workers and keeps a database of protective equipment request. Link: Plan B Project
Finding funds for mass-production
The plan is to have 2 options:
- We release the project files for self-production by volunteers
- Once all testing and approvals are obtained, we will apply for EU grants or seek help of investors
The value of our solution after the crisis
Once the crisis is over, our PAPR system can be adapted for use in multiple scenarios where quality of air is poor in regards to particulate matter concentration, such as:
- Mining industry
- Car painting body shops
- Bio-chemical laboratories
- Factories that specialize in metal work
Further reading can be found in our Google Drive folder. There we have:
- List of costs for single and mass-production
- Technical data sheet for the parts
- 3D STL Files of the casing
- Technical data sheet for the filter
- List of materials
- Parts schematics
- Pictures of the first prototype
Link: Fresh Air PAPR
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