Current challenges that inspired us:
1) Global shortage of ventilators due to the COVID-19 pandemic is causing preventable loss of life. 2) Limited ventilator supply as the existing clinical ventilators are too complicated to manufacture, and improvised ones do not conform to the minimal clinical standards. 3) Most of the ad-hoc ventilator designs latch on to the local resources and supplies, making them non-scalable. 4) We need alt-routes for acquiring ventilator components as the medical device manufacturers and supply chains are strained and broken at many places. 5) We are facing an unprecedented crisis of our lifetime. We need to revise our production strategy to solve the logistical imbalance. 6) Lack of timely delivery due to entrenched bureaucracy, IP and distributor/repair issues. 7) Difficulties in global design aggregation and adoption into production.
Goals of the project which our team works hard to meet:
1) Provide a balanced design for an emergency ventilator which ensures minimal functional standards, is capable of continuous operation for 3+ weeks, is intuitive, easy to learn and operate. 2) Provide a flexible and understandable blueprint to ensure maximum flexibility in choice of components within the functional range of the design, fast manufacturing rollout capacity and accessibility to any geographical region. 3) Minimize reliance on healthcare production chain, Cern OHL and distributor rights. 4) Enable quantifiable levels of functionality, quality and longevity based on resources available
What it does
PolyVent is a robust mechanical ventilator design formula for an emergency production scenario, which provides needed functionality, flexibility and adaptability based on the regional production and supply chain capabilities. A central mathematical blueprint provides a known degree of flexibility within the functional limits of the design. Highly modifiable, the basic design includes two independently-controlled air-pumping bellows driven by linear actuators for main respiratory cycle and base flow (PEEP), a multi-functional Venturi-based pressure/flow/volume sensor, an air-mixing chamber, a filtering system, an O2 concentrator integration possibility an electronics interface with optional GUI controls. Suitable for mass-production, PolyVent is a multi-modular concept, aiming to ease the pressure on the healthcare supply chain, and aid in repair and replacement needs. Parts can be ordered from existing suppliers outside the healthcare chain, manufactured from a variety of materials and with a wide range of methods. The design aims to avoid IP issues and to allow unrestricted global access and implementation.
Designed for respiratory support modes: Synchronized intermittent mandatory ventilation (SIMV) Volume control ventilation (VCV) Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP)
How I built it
We designed our first 2 prototypes during the Code Life Ventilator Challenge in Canada, which was helpful to identify the most promising concepts to be incorporated into the new design formula. During the Give-a-Breath challenge by Fraunhofer Insitute and Munch RE (currently in expert evaluation), we created a new design, emphasising the flexibility and regional adaptability aspects. Prototyping of separate modules has already began. We also made a 3d-printable Venturi flow sensor, costing 10 Euro, as opposed to 2000 Euro flow sensors found in commercial ventilators. During the EUvsVirus hackathon, the Venturi sensor technology was validated further with encouraging results obtained. We have already secured interests from several institutions to build and test the current design including the State University of New York. During the EUvsVirus we also began first discussion with the Fraunhofer Institute in Germany regarding the possibility of integrating a highly efficient, portable O2 concentrator into the design.
Challenges I ran into
Supply and resources, as expected. Working with an international team across different time zones. The first two prototypes revealed weakness in the longevity of 3D-printed parts of the motor assembly when tested over prolonged time. Our team successfully navigated these obstacles and keeps improving the design concept on a daily basis.
Accomplishments that I'm proud of
We became a battle-tested, hard-working team, capable of quickly adapting and delivering the results in the face of personal sacrifices. Having created a great team culture, we managed to attract a lot of talented and selfless people to create a truly flexible ventilator design formula. The supply chain problem - we really have it covered.
What I learned
Working at high pace environment can be extremely rewarding and seeing humanity come together like this is very inspirational. Working in a volunteering environment brings its unique organisational challenges as well as rewards in ways of unhindered creativity and free collaboration.
What's next for PolyVent
We need to optimise the finer details of the new design, integrate the mechanical modules, electronic sensors, interface and control parameters in one functional product. Ultimately, we are looking for a well-supplied prototyping platform to build, test and validate the entire system. We already have partners waiting to perform tests on training dummies. However, further de-risking of the product, additional optimisation and regulatory approval feasibility assessments are next hurdles for PolyVent. During the EUvsVirus hackathon, many of these points were deeply addressed.
Incoming Collaborations & Ventures
As one of the winners of the EUvsVirus Hackathon we have now moved on to the matchmaking process. We have received a significant number of interests and offers from Institutional entities. We are in the process of solidifying our stance and direction of PolyVent prototyping, validation and production. We list here our ongoing progress with our partners:
State University of New York, Canton: Agreed to prototyping and validation
Engineers Without Borders, Netherlands: Agreed to provide organizational structure for our group
Cardiff University, UK: Agreed to do the flow simulations of the system
Lee Felsenstein: Agreed to provide a unified electronics design for the control system
CEU InnovationsLab, Hungary: Discussion on networking possibilities
NYU STERN BERKLEY Innovation Lab, New York: Discussion on organization structure
Inter University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics, Pune: Pledged for infrastructure and startup facility