UF researchers lead the way in rapidly designing, building low-cost, open-source ventilator
作为一个 University of Florida mechanical engineering student decades ago, 萨姆松lampotang, Ph.D., helped respiratory therapist colleagues build a minimal-transport ventilator that became a commercial success. So, when the coronavirus pandemic hit and he heard the desperate international plea for thousands more ventilators, the longtime UF professor of 麻醉学 set out to build a prototype using plentiful, cheap components that could be copied from an online diagram and a software repository.
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“该 way I looked at it is, if you’re going to run out of ventilators, then we’re not even trying to reproduce the sophisticated ventilators out there,” said Lampotang, the Joachim S. Gravenstein Professor of 麻醉学 in the UF College of Medicine， 部分 UF健康, and the director of UF’s Center for Safety, Simulation & Advanced 学习 Technologies, or CSSALT. “If we run out, you have to decide who gets one and who doesn’t. How do you decide that? 该 power of our approach is that every well-intentioned volunteer who has access to 家 Depot, Ace or Lowe’s or their equivalent worldwide can build one.”
Lampotang, an inventor with 43 patents belonging to UF, will not try to patent the ventilator, he said. Rather, with UF’s approval, he will provide it “open source” for engineers and hobbyists worldwide as the number of critically ill coronavirus victims continues to climb. His team is working on adding safety features to meet regulatory guidelines and then they will run engineering tests to determine safety, accuracy and endurance of the machine, which can be built for as little as $125 to $250.
Gordon Gibby, M.D., said when his friend and former colleague Lampotang contacted him to help, he was a little skeptical. But then Lizdas used the 家 Depot materials to assemble a pneumatic circuit, which Lampotang reviewed via FaceTime to confirm that the design concept — similar to the one he helped build decades before — would indeed work. Lizdas, working in his garage, made a video that was uploaded the same night to the website of UF’s department of 麻醉学, where Lampotang and Lizdas are based.
“I saw what they were doing, and realized it was going to work!!!!” Gibby wrote in an email to fellow members of ARRL, the national amateur radio (known as Ham radio) association.
Gibby, a recently retired associate professor of 麻醉学 at UF and an electrical engineer, grabbed an Arduino microcontroller board, the kind used to build small robots or for a student to learn to program. Lizdas raced over to his house and dropped off a sprinkler valve in Gibby’s mailbox. Gibby fired up his soldering iron and built a transistor driver that could handle the current supplied by a Ham radio DC power supply.
Eight hours later, Gibby said, two drivers were built, code was created and tested and they had a working ventilator driving a “test lung” metal contraption from an air compressor that served as a simulated oxygen source. 该y were able to adjust the respiratory rate with the Arduino-based control software. A video of the ventilator working on Gibby’s dining room table was also quickly uploaded. Now, they are working on other key parameters, he said.
该 ventilator’s valves will precisely time the flow of compressed oxygen into a patient with lungs weakened by viral pneumonia in order to extend life and allow time for the body to clear the infection.
“It was really easy for me to write the code to prove this thing’s going to work,” Gibby said.
志愿者 who jumped to help included 帕特里克·泰伊, M.D., who prodded Lampotang to act on his idea; the CSSALT team; code developer Marcelo Varanda in Ottawa (motivated to build ventilators for Canada and Brazil); Gibby’s network, including noted software developer Jack Purdum and transceiver maker Ashhar Farhan of India; and Stephanie Lampotang, Lampotang’s daughter, a University of Southern California computer science junior who evacuated to 盖恩斯维尔 with two of her own Arduino boards in her luggage.
Lampotang and others are working with UF Innovate | Tech Licensing and the UF健康 legal team to address legal aspects as the design advances and the FDA alters guidance documents for equipment cleared for use solely during the pandemic.
Already, they’ve translated their site //simulation.health.ufl.edu/technology-development/open-source-ventilator-project/ into French, and a volunteer is translating it into Italian.
“We want to reach the whole world, and The Gator Nation,” Lampotang said. “We have UF graduates from all over the world. 该re’s already a network of people who can contribute in disseminating the technology if it’s needed in the next few weeks.”
Once the safety features are added, other researchers at UF’s Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering will help run tests to measure and document the safety and durability and whether the accuracy and repeatability meet engineering specifications, Lampotang said.
Nonetheless, he said, his wish is that the ventilator won’t be needed during the coronavirus pandemic.
“When all this comes to pass and the world settles down,” he said, “we hope it will be repurposed for use in underdeveloped countries, so they can build a safe and inexpensive ventilator for themselves.”