IIsc team building ventilator prototype to meet COVID emergency

Published : April 01, 2020 19:19 IST

A bench-top test setup assembled at the IISc high-speed wind tunnel complex to test ideas and concepts during the ventilator prototype development phase. A test lung (seen in the bottom left of the image) is used in the experiments to roughly mimic a distressed human lung (Test lung courtesy Narayana Hrudayalaya).

India currently has around 40,000 ventilators but there is a real fear that this number would be woefully inadequate if there is a surge in the number of COVID-19 patients. For patients with the worst effects of the infection, which is damage to the lungs, a ventilator helps them breathe, giving them strength and time to fight off the infection.

To address this, a team of engineers from the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) is working to build a “prototype of an electro-mechanical ventilator from scratch” so that the demand can be met. According to a press release shared by IISc, the prototype is expected to be ready in a couple of weeks. T.V. Prabhakar, principal research scientist at the Department of Electronic Systems Engineering and one of the founders of the project, stated: “We are building it so that anyone can use it free of cost.”

Gaurab Banerjee, associate professor at the Department of Electrical Communication Engineering and one of the project coordinators, added, “For the last 10 days, we have been working day and night to get this technology going. We hope that by the end of April, manufacturers can have their own prototypes done, which they can scale up very quickly.”

According to the press release, the prototype is being built “using components found or made in India, based on guidelines issued by the U.K. Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency. This becomes important as global supply chains have been disrupted, leading to key components not being immediately available in India.

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