The Institute - September 2020 - TI7
tech takes on COVID-19
Ambu [bags] or ventilators during
this worldwide pandemic.
What technologies are you using?
LEFT: M.R. FARAHNAK; RIGHT: HADI MORADI
The basis of the technology consists of
a mechanism that pumps the required
volume of air into the patient's respiratory system at a given rate.
The system must also allow for health
care professionals to manually pump
air in case of an emergency, such as
the loss of power at the hospital. To
build the mechanical parts, we used a
laser to cut plexiglass into gears and a
simple controller, which is designed to
run the motor at the desired rate and
pressure. The system runs on a touch
display to allow easy use.
What challenges have you faced,
and how did you overcome them?
The first one was making sure we finished the design in a timely manner.
The team and I searched for previous
work done by other engineers and discovered that Alexander Slocum, an
engineering professor at MIT, started
a similar project 10 years ago.
We contacted him and were told that
he and his team had also begun to work
on designing an automatic Ambu for
the United States. Slocum generously
shared his design with us-which gave
us a good foundation and let us focus
on making the technology usable in
Iran based on the technologies and
Another challenge was receiving
approval from the Iranian health ministry to test the ventilators in a short
period of time. Due to the current
health care situation and the fact that
the initial design previously had been
tested by the MIT team, the ministry
allowed us to test our first version during the week of 5 April. It was important to put the device on the right class
of equipment so the required standards could be met.
The final challenge we faced was finding all the parts and services needed
to build the ventilators. Due to restrictions placed on businesses by the Iranian government to avoid the spread
of COVID-19, finding all the needed
parts and services has become difficult.
However, we have partnered with a
group of entrepreneurs at the University of Tehran that can connect us to
companies that can provide us with
what we need.
What is the potential
impact of the technology?
If respiratory support is provided to
COVID-19 patients, many of them can
survive the virus. These ventilators can
help save lives. Having low-cost and
easy-to-build ventilators allows engineers around the world to build the
machines for their local communities.
How close are you
to the final product?
Before testing, the device had to be
reviewed by the Iranian Ministry of
Health and Medical Education, which
has delayed testing by more than two
months. The ministry requested that
the team add several features, which
include air filters, a backup battery,
and a sensor that measures the concentration of oxygen that is being pumped
by the ventilator.
How can other
IEEE members get involved?
We made the design open-source and
let other IEEE regions know. Since
building this machine involves a combination of electrical, mechanical, and
bioengineering know-how, it is important to have members from all these
fields work together.
This article originally appeared online as
"Iranian Engineers Develop Open-Source
Ventilator designed by Hadi Moradi,
S.K. Setarehdan, and Morteza Behzadnasab
The Institute - September 2020
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