Researchers develop low-cost ventilator to help countries still fighting COVID-19

Griffith University researchers are helping countries still in the fight against COVID-19 by developing a lifesaving device that turns locally available materials and resuscitation bags into makeshift ventilators.

A team led by Professor Yongsheng Gao from the School of Engineering and Built Environment and Institute for Integrated and Intelligent Systems, created the Ventil-8, a device that turns ambu bags, the hand pumps used in resuscitation or CRP, into automated ventilators.

“We needed this replacement ventilator to be low-cost and built quickly and relatively easily anywhere in the world,’’ Professor Gao said.

“A key design requirement was that all the materials it’s made from have to be available locally and accessible within one day, and in sufficient quantities to create thousands.”

The team settled on a prototype driven by an easily available car windscreen wiper motor and its cost? Just $600.

“The makeshift ventilator meets the doctors’ needs, with adjustable volume and speed or breaths per minute and three different Inspiratory/Expiratory (I/E) ratios,’’ said Dr Mousa Hadipour, a research fellow at the Institute for Integrated and Intelligent Systems who was responsible for the mechanical aspect of Ventil-8.

Dr Thomas Challenger from Griffith’s School of Medicine said the prototype could be easily reproduced in countries where doctors can’t access $25,000-$50,000 ventilators.”

“Due to the dire need for ventilators in these countries, the designs for the Ventil-8 ventilation assistance device are being made available open-source at GitHub for medical professionals around the world in the hope that it will help them avoid having to make the terrible choice of who gets a ventilator and who doesn’t.”