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Low-Cost Ventilator Supports Developing Economies Needs

By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 02 Sep 2020
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Image: The PocketVent affordable ventilator (Photo courtesy of NPL)
Image: The PocketVent affordable ventilator (Photo courtesy of NPL)
A low cost, easy to manufacture ventilator meets the requirements for affordable device technologies in emerging markets during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Developed at The National Physical Laboratory (Teddington, United Kingdom), the national measurement standards laboratory for the United Kingdom, the PocketVent is a compact, low power ventilator that is compatible with pressurized oxygen. At an estimated manufacturing cost of just USD 1300, the device can provide an alternative to expensive, bulky standard ventilators for developing economies, without sacrificing key functionality. All parts are either made with common machine tools, are easily sourced off-the shelf-components, or can be shipped by multiple global suppliers.

Features includes a manual control panel and detailed data display enabling clinicians to maintain a high quality of care; dual purpose use as a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) respiratory device; a limited training time for healthcare professionals to learn to operate the ventilator; widely available cheap parts for rapid repair turnaround time; and performance requirements that meet UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) specifications for ventilation. Initial production is scheduled in Nigeria, to be followed by other African countries.

“Working collaboratively on this project with several colleagues from different disciplines meant there were a broad range of ideas that ultimately lead to the design of this easy to produce and affordable ventilator,” said NPL team leader research engineer Jean Morris, MPhys. “We were encouraged to give this project as much time as required, which gave us the freedom to explore new ways of working as a team.”

“Creating a low cost and easy to produce ventilator in short duration and from a standstill would seem an impossible task, though that is what the NPL Ventilator team have achieved. The foundation of this instrument development has been NPL’s measurement and test capabilities,” said Professor Paul Shore, PhD, head of engineering at NPL. “This testing ability at NPL guided the design of the PocketVent which was created by staff within NPL’s Instruments Group. The dedication of the whole NPL Ventilator team during the pandemic has been inspiring.”

Related Links:
The National Physical Laboratory


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