Engineers with automotive supplier Magna use parts from a recent seating innovation to design an emergency field ventilator for COVID-19 patients and now are looking for partners to help move the project forward.
Team members in Novi, MI – led by John Oilar, global vice president-Innovation, Mechanical and Structure Engineering, and Bruno Carraro, director-Innovation Engineering – recently met with a group of pneumologists to learn more about what is needed.
They designed an emergency ventilator for use in field hospitals with a goal of sourcing components that could enable 500 hours, or approximately 21 days, of operation.
“It’s important to note this grassroots concept was inspired by the dire scenario of going beyond traditional, federally approved ventilators to fulfill absolute extreme emergency situations in the U.S. or other countries,” Oilar says in a Magna news release. “We decided to put a couple of our creative engineers to work to see what they could brainstorm.”
Bruno and his team created high-level specifications and a scorecard for creating the field emergency ventilator. They also joined an open-source internet community called OSV (Open Source Ventilator) that is actively brainstorming several ventilator designs.
Combining what they learned through OSV with their knowledge of seating, the Magna team applied the central electronic control unit and software used in a recent innovation to a ventilator design using a seat recliner motor and a lever to automatically compress a manual self-inflating bag (above, left) as used in emergency rooms for patients not breathing or having difficulty breathing.
“The challenge is that very few seat components in the industry are designed for continuous operation,” Carraro says. “They can meet more than that in terms of hours, but without intervals in between actuations, thermal dissipation and fatigue issues will certainly emerge.
“To find a solution, we have engaged other partners to help on the component selection. They are investigating what they can find in their component portfolios.”
The Magna team is sharing the concept within the OSV community, hoping designers around the globe will be able to take the design and evolve it quickly.
“We hope sharing this concept with the open-source community and with media will connect us to a company that can identify a way to take this design to the next level as an emergency solution in this growing pandemic,” Oilar says.