Open-source ventilators to fight COVID-19

Trinity postgraduate student Michael Garstka is part of a team of engineers and medics collaborating to rapidly develop a new affordable open-source ventilator.

The team from Oxford and King’s College London are working with medical equipment manufacturers Smith + Nephew and have been shortlisted by the UK government to go to the next stage of testing for safety and usability for their ventilator prototype. This green light enables the team to test their prototype ventilators, developed in response to the coronavirus pandemic and forecasted acute shortage of ventilators. The next stage would be the manufacture of ventilators and deployment through the NHS. The design could also be used in other healthcare settings.

The team, led by Oxford Professors Andrew Farmery, Mark Thompson, Tim Denison, Paul Goulart and Alfonso Castrejon-Pita and DPhil student Rob Staruch and King’s College London’s Prof Sebastien Ourselin and Dr Federico Formenti, have defined a simple, safe and scalable design that will meet the strict specifications for use with patients. The design will exploit off-the-shelf components and equipment with elements that can be produced through 3D printing techniques.

Michael Garstka is one of several students from the Control Group in the Engineering Department that are helping to design the control algorithm and the software that runs on the microcontroller of the ventilator. He says: ‘It has been a challenging few weeks to get up to speed with the world of microcontrollers, electronics and ventilators, with some added difficulties and entertainment that come with remote working. Working with many talented people from Oxford, King’s and industry partners for an urgent cause is a great experience.’

Garstka is one of several current and former Trinity College medics and engineers on the OxVent team; recent alumni Andrew Orr and Tom Kirk are also part of the group.

Posted: 14 April 2020

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