King's Engineers design and build affordable ventilator
King's Fellow James Taylor is one of a number of engineers who have been building a ventilator system that can be manufactured and maintained in low and middle-income countries. The device, which featured on BBC Look East yesterday, is designed to be robust, affordable and easy to manufacture, with the intention that it can be made by large in-country engineering companies around the world.
Although James is more accustomed to working on jet engines, his work at the Whittle Lab now feeds into the Open Ventilator System Initiative (OVSI) that has been created to enable the mass production of ventilators to overcome worldwide shortages.
Since the first prototype was developed and completed (within just four days) on 30th March, further improvements have been made to the OVSI ventilator and the latest iteration is today being driven by James to the National Physical Laboratory in Teddington to be verified by an independent body. Once approved, the ventilator will be manufactured by Prodrive Motorsport, a UK company that usually makes racing cars, and South African firm Defy, who will help meet growing demand in sub-Saharan Africa.
The ventilator has involved a host of King's Fellows and graduate students who have all helped bring the project to fruition:
Engineering Fellow Nick Atkins has designed and built the electronic circuits for both prototypes, while King's PhD student Hans Verschueren has been leading the work on certification for both the UK, FDA and South African systems. Fellow Chez Hall, also based in the Whittle Lab, has been helping with the project as well.
At Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology, Fellow Geoff Moggridge has been organising injection moulding companies and will use his equipment to help with the mass manufacture in South Africa. His PhD student Ruhi Patel has been researching and specifying suitable materials for the system.
The OVSI team have also created this video explanation of how their ventilator works.