JKUAT’s Team of Engineers Invent Ventilators to Fill Shortage

The Engineers at work in the iPIC lab.

A multidisciplinary team of Engineers and medical experts from the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology has developed two portable prototype ventilators they believe can fill the shortage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The ventilators that can run continuously on a 12 voltage battery, electricity or solar, and which used about 85% of locally available materials to make (save for fasteners and other electrical control components and the motar), were conceived by 25 engineers from the University’s College of Engineering and Technology (COETEC), namely; Mechanical, Mechatronic, Electrical and Electronics, and experts from the School of Medicine.

According to Prof Benard Ikua, the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Administration), who is also a key member of the innovation team, the ventilators have unique features, that, besides their portability, are light in weight, meaning they could easily be transported and used at any point of need.

“We took our time to come up with user-friendly ventilators that besides their efficiency because of the use of battery, electricity and solar, we also went for materials that are easily available locally to encourage mass production,” said Prof. Ikua, adding that the University had the capacity to make 10 ventilators weekly.

Daniel Omondi, another member of the team said the two designs, which have already been tested, were made in such a way that they pump air at a controlled rate into the lungs of the patient; both adults and children.

“In this way, we are able to vary parameters of the rate of pumping, depending on the patient and age, the volume of the air being pumped, as well as the pressure of the air being pumped,” he concluded.

The whole process of developing the two ventilators to completion was carried out at the University’s Engineering Workshop’s Innovation and Prototyping Integrated Centre (iPIC). The team was led by Dr. Hiram Nderitu who is also the Principal COETEC.

The team of Engineers at the stage of testing the Ventilator’s functionality before they declared their success.

Ventilators are machines that provide mechanical ventilation by moving breathable air into and out of the lungs, to deliver breaths to a patient who is physically unable to breathe, or breathing insufficiently.

Modern ventilators are computerized microprocessor-controlled machines, but patients can also be ventilated with a simple, hand-operated bag valve mask.

They are chiefly used in intensive care medicine, home care, and emergency medicine (as standalone units) and in anesthesiology (as a component of an anesthesia machine).

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