LOW COST HOSPITAL VENTILATOR WITH INTERNATIONAL COLLABORATION AND ṔUBLIC DOMAIN PROJECT
The NanoVentex CUBE is a low-cost hospital mini ventilator (respirator), but with the standard of quality and reliability required for use in the medical field.
It is being developed in an international collaboration system and open platform (open-source), which makes your project publicly accessible. Thus, its development and improvement are carried out continuously by qualified employees located in any part of the world. In addition, this system allows small companies and even governments to adopt the concept and start testing and manufacturing the parts without having to make previous investments in design.
It was designed to meet primarily the emergency needs arising from the pandemic caused by the COVID-19 virus. However, the equipment has extensive application to all demands for a simpler and more reliable hospital ventilator, especially in more distant and poor regions. Regions that often do not even have oxygen tanks available, which is why the NanoVentex CUBE is equipped with an internal filtered air pumping unit and can alternatively be powered by batteries (in addition to the internal ones), solar energy or small generators.
The concept of this project differs from the two main approaches adopted by research institutions and companies. One approach is the use of open patents regarding existing devices. Meanwhile, these devices are usually very complex, designed for more general applications and very expensive. The other approach is the use of balloons or compression diaphragms, which, despite of having an easy-to-understand concept, fundamentally represent only one of the critical blocks of a hospital ventilator.
In the case of NanoVentex CUBE, the project is target in the final production, minimizing the stage of development, concept testing and certification of new single components. That is, through the use of several critical components with reliability already known and certified according to medical standards, it is possible to move towards the manufacture of the final equipment, the development of the production line and the quality control system and, mainly, to concentrate efforts on the improvement and optimization of the control software, which thus becomes the most critical design item of the product reliability and safety.
In other words, the product is structured in the use of critical parts already developed, available and with reliability tested according to the standards of the medical area, however, coming from other hospital equipment that are not ventilators. Like this, bottlenecks in supply caused by high demand during a crisis are avoided.
Thus, the necessary immediate availability and affordable cost of these components is sought, while thousands of dollars in development are saved and the final product production schedule is shortened in a considerable time.
In addition, the NanoVentex CUBE was designed so that its structure can be manufactured on a 3D printer and with the possibility of immediate evolution to manufacture by plastic injection, without the necessary change in its original design. That is, it is a viable concept at any scale of production.
As the components or the first versions of the project are made available on the open-source platform, the manufacturing and functional testing of the units can be immediately started anywhere in the world, including in Brazil or US, by any institution, company, government, or even at a residential level (DIY), while new waves of improvement flow through the hands of collaborators continuously producing an increase in functional and manufacturing efficiency, as well as the desired cost reduction.
The target cost of the final industrialized product is US $ 1,000.
This is a non-profit project and is being jointly developed and coordinated by the following institutions and companies:
– University of Brasília (UnB) – Brasília / DF – Brazil
– Uniftec University – Caxias do Sul / RS – Brazil
– MN Smart Products – Private Company in Minnesota – USA
– Kohl Equipment – Private Company in Rio de Janeiro / RJ – Brazil
The strategic and humanitarian importance of this project is not restricted only to Brazil and US, but also in relation to several other countries, mainly the poorest and most populous, such as several countries located in South and Central America, Africa and Asia, as India, Ecuador, Haiti, Nigeria and many others.
The unmet demand for hospital ventilators is a well-known issue in medical circles and has caused countless victims in many regions around the world. This happens because the average price has always been extremely high, with an initial price never lower than US $ 12,000. Currently, amid COVID-19 pandemic, this equipment has been commercialized for up to US $ 50,000, which makes its acquisition on a scale by most governments and hospitals absolutely impossible.
Nevertheless, ventilation equipment has undergone so much technological and functional sophistication over the past three decades making its maintenance very expensive. In addition, the use of more complex equipment is only possible by highly qualified and intensively trained technicians. Most of these innovations have been implemented focused in the use by hospitals with more resources.
Another aspect is that there are few ventilators manufacturers in the world and there is a recursive tendency to make it difficult for smaller manufacturers introduce simpler and lower cost products.
The US government, for instance, has been trying to develop a low-cost ventilator project program in partnership with smaller companies and startups for over 15 years! In three attempts, these companies ended up being acquired by larger companies and the projects were closed without any ventilator having been produced.
Even today, amid this crisis, the major players still exert enormous pressure to maintain the oligopoly. For example, according to media, in the second week of March, 2020, only an American consortium formed by a well-known automobile manufacturer and a traditional manufacturer of hospital ventilators was on the verge of receiving a budget of 1 billion dollars to develop and manufacture this equipment. This consortium proposed to produce 80,000 units at the always high unitary price of $ 12,000. The process was interrupted and resumed more than once and, until the end of March, there was still no conclusion.
There are currently a hundred of large and small companies in the world, non-profit institutions and even individual inventors, all demanding government funds and donations in relation to their projects. However, most are limited to presenting partial and diffuse ideas, although they are often friendly and ingenious, but which do not establish a linear way to arrive at a complete, safe and durable device.
Even one of the most famous technical university in US has released a prototype based on an air bag compression process, but which fundamentally represents only a portion of the equipment.
The design of a hospital ventilator requires pressure and volume sensing, alarms, microprocessors and redundant circuits, batteries, friendly displays, battery charger, pressure regulating valves, filters, limiting valves, solenoid valves, piping, connections, housing, controlled source and various other components certified for medical use.
In addition, a hospital ventilator, even if basic, has to be designed to operate almost 1,300,000 times per month, it cannot fail at a high or unknown rate and, if it fails, it cannot take more than a few seconds to alarm or it will suffocate a patient who is already deeply debilitated.
All this “noise and promises of effort” have stifled the initiative of smaller companies which have the necessary know-how and infrastructure for this development and manufacturing. This is because these companies end up choosing not to venture into an investment of thousands of dollars when they are threatened by a possible “flood of equipment” in the coming months, even when most experts consider that this is an almost fanciful scenario.
The NanoVentex project is a humanitarian initiative at a time when market reserves or technology confinement are not welcome.
Because it is based on an open-source and collaborative concept, it does not allow partners have any privileges, simultaneously contributing to increase the offer by new suppliers.
Like all projects that are currently being developed on an emergency basis, the risk of delays cannot be neglected, especially considering that the entire supply chain of products and services is strongly affected by social distancing and quarantines.
Meanwhile, the intrinsic utility of the NanoVentex proposal (cost, simplicity and reliability) goes beyond the current crisis as it represents an alternative to the chronic demands for this type of equipment.
University of Brasilia (UnB) – Brazil
PhD Prof Mr Sandro Haddad – Vice Director of UnB FGA – http://fga.unb.br/direcao
PhD Prof Mr. Daniel M. Muñoz Arboleda – Coord. of the Project – http://fga.unb.br/daniel.munoz
Engr Geison Rasia – https://www.ftec.com.br/contato/
Engr Maiko de Sousa – https://www.linkedin.com/in/maikodesousa
MN Smart Products – USA
Engr MSc Jorge Cataldo – https://www.linkedin.com/in/jorgecataldo
Engr MSc Fernando Buarque – https://www.linkedin.com/in/fernando-n-buarque
AMT Elton Gomes – https://www.linkedin.com/in/elton-gomes-rosa-7a7b923