You are here

Graduate student working on new rapidly deployable ventilators

26 March 2020

One of our graduate students, Andrew Orr (DPhil, Engineering Science), is involved with a project called Oxvent, which is a collaboration between Oxford’s Department of Engineering Science, Oxford University Hospitals, King’s College London, and the Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences to produce rapidly deployable ventilators for the NHS during the Covid-19 crisis. As part of this collaboration he has been designing and prototyping electronics and was interviewed this week as part of a demonstration for Sky News. More ventilators are urgently needed worldwide, and Oxvent have developed a simplified but effective ventilator that can be produced in its thousands per week.  We are helping to maximise awareness of this project so that it gets the funding it needs to deploy it in quantity and save lives.

The video below, featuring Andrew, was used in a presentation to the Government as part of a selection process to determine which of the many companies offering ventilator designs should go forward. Oxvent was given the green light to proceed to the next stage, and they will continue to develop and test the prototype in the coming weeks. Andrew’s specific involvement in the project is as an engineer. He is responsible for designing control circuitry for the prototype, as well as the front panel interact (pictured).   The other key members of the project are Professor Andrew Farmery, Professor Mark Thompson, and Andrew’s DPhil supervisor Professor Alfonso Castrejon-Pita; in total the project has a team of over 30 people, spanning multiple institutions.

Andrew says: ‘Our new ventilator design is beautifully simple, building on the same principles used in many surgical anaesthetic machines across the NHS. We have thrown away some of the luxuries of modern ventilator design to ensure maximum production speed, while still meeting all the regulatory requirements. Its components can be readily sourced from domestic supply chains, and do not interfere with the production of existing ventilators. To support our bespoke electronics, multiple domestic PCB (circuit board) manufacturers are currently on standby, ready to produce in excess of 5,000 circuits a week each. The entire device is like IKEA furniture - it can be assembled in your front room with minimal tools. It's simple, but it will keep you alive.

‘What is remarkable is the speed with which this team has come together, and the sheer outpouring of goodwill towards the project! We have received offers of help on all scales and of all kinds. When I first got the call from my supervisor asking for help designing the electronics for an improvised ventilator, little did I know we'd have a working ventilator in less than a week, let alone that I'd be demonstrating it to the Government or on National TV!'

Follow the project on Twitter 

Oxvent ventilator prototype