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drawing of lungs infected with Novel CoronavirusHis design for a low-cost ventilator will improve health outcomes in Canada and around the world, says UWindsor engineering prof Jeff Dafoe.

Prof developing low-cost ventilator design

A UWindsor researcher is developing a low-cost ventilator that can be assembled from off-the-shelf components and has almost no moving parts.

Jeff Defoe, a professor of mechanical engineering, will take a simple ventilator design from an initial concept to a working prototype. Dr. Defoe says he expects his model to cost approximately one-tenth the price of most current ventilators.

“The final design will be openly available to enable widespread adoption for manufacturing in case future waves of COVID-19 or other respiratory diseases require high levels of hospitalization in intensive care with ventilators,” he says.

Defoe will finalize the design using flow simulation tools that include human lung and chest cavity characteristics. When the design is proven in a simulated environment, a prototype will be constructed and tested on a medical-grade patient lung simulator device that provides accurate representations of adult pulmonary mechanics and the lung capacity of a typical adult patient.

Defoe plans on working with local health centres to conduct in-hospital testing of device setup and monitoring by medical professionals with the hopes of clinical trials in the future.

Biafore Associates Inc. and local physician Mason Leschyna have partnered on the $50,000 Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Alliance funded project. Software and user interface design support will be provided by Maya HTT and Grantek Inc.

Dr. Leschyna came up with the concept for the project and is a clinician who will remain actively involved after the project is completed, Defoe says. Experienced with Health Canada processes for approvals of new medical devices, Biafore Associates Inc. will provide management consulting.

Defoe says the design may enable ventilation-supported care in developing nations where traditional ventilator costs are prohibitive.

“The outcome of the overall project will thus be highly significant for health outcomes in Canada and around the world for dealing with the current and future pandemics.”

—Kristie Pearce