Czech Diving Equipment Manufacturer Helps Create Medical Ventilators
A team of programmers, scientists and engineers from the Czech Republic – including a specialist in the field of diving technology – has come together to develop high-quality medical ventilators to assist with the coronavirus pandemic.
The Corovent project, founded by lead engineer Tomáš Kapler, includes Aleš Procháska, founder of rebreather specialist Divesoft. The team expects to have 500 ventilators ready for delivery by mid-April, but at a fraction of the typical cost of equipment supplied to the medical profession. Product testing is currently underway and, once it has been completed, the ventilator design will be made available worldwide as part of the attempt to help others in need.
The medical ventilator’s design includes the use of parts which are widely available, easy to manufacture and simple to assemble, plus a user-friendly interface that minimises operator training requirements. The equipment will be usable with both bottled oxygen and filtered compressed air, and compatible with existing hospital systems and consumable materials.
In light of the struggling world economy, the team is working without financial compensation and expects to produce the new ventilators at one-fifth of the $20,000 price tag of standard medical equipment.
Procháska, already a specialist in the production of hi-tech breathing apparatus through his company Divesoft, is assisting with the design of the valves through which the patient is supplied with breathing gas. 'I’m focused on the development and construction of pressurized valve prototypes,' he said. 'It’s a safety valve which constantly limits the oxygen pressure that a patient breathes. I’ve already designed similar valves for rebreathers whereby the function is the same: to ensure a diver doesn’t inhale oxygen at too high of a pressure which could cause injury to the lungs.' Divesoft also has a device capable of measuring the operating parameters of such valves already available through the company.
According to a Divesoft press release, there are currently around 3,500 medical ventilators available in the Czech Republic. More than one third are already in use and there is currently no manufacturer in the country capable of producing the devices. Should the situation in the Czech Republic worsen – as it has in Italy – the country may run out of ventilators by mid-April, hence Kapler's project has become a race against the clock.
The Corovent design, including all findings, code, drawings and documentation, has been open-sourced to allow contribution from engineers around the world. Kapler, Procháska, and the rest of the design team are hoping to 'help open the door for others to respond more quickly, and save more lives around the world.'
For more information and to track the production process for the team’s ventilators, visit the team's website at www.corovent.eu