As part of efforts to continue its contribution to the ongoing battle against the rampaging Corona Virus ,COVID-19 pandemic , a team of researchers at the Federal University of Technology Akure, FUTA has developed a Positive pressure ventilator ,a variant of mechanical ventilator. Presenting the prototype to the university management, the Dean, School of Engineering and Engineering Technology SEET, Professor Aremu Akintunde said the present design falls within the non-invasive mechanical ventilator category. He said noninvasive mechanical ventilators come with covers and can be used at health facilities and at home because of its versatility adding that the design is of the Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) type which delivers constant and steady pressure. The System runs on direct Current and can be configured to be powered by solar energy thus it has no direct negative effect on the environment. Another unique advantage of the device is its portability as it can be used in ambulances in the case of emergency and it can also be used in Primary Health Care facilities in the rural areas. It is also configured in a way to run on car battery which carries 12 volts .
While explaining how the device works, Akintunde said that compliance and resistance for periodical dispensation of tidal volume was calculated and accomplished by using intermittent inspiratory and expiratory pause since normal breathing consists of an average Tidal Volume (VT) of 5ml/kg. He said the machine was designed to dispense VT between 5ml/kg and 10ml/kg and that the machine has two parts namely the mechanical part which does the pumping of the air (Oxygen) while the electronic part offers the control and sensor of the mechanism .Akintunde disclosed that the mechanical part was achieved through a control system while the electronic part was achieved through a sensor system using positive feedback loop. He said the control system also monitors the position and speed of the cam-and –pedal system that operates the pump, while the control allows the operator to regulate the required VT for the patient.
The team lead of the research group, Dr. Peter Ayodeji said that the principle of the machine was taken from the bellows used by the local blacksmiths. He said that the machine was functional in enabling affected patients take in enough oxygen into their lungs adding that the machine was assembled using locally available materials except for the motor and the sensor materials. Ayodeji stated that the local content of the device is well above 85% and was cost effective as it costs about N500, 000 to produce a set and when mass produced will definitely costs less. He appreciated the moral and financial support of the Vice Chancellor towards the successful completion of the prototype.
In his remarks, the Vice Chancellor Professor Joseph Fuwape commended the various schools in the University for bringing new ideas into every aspect of curbing the pandemic. He said coming after the development of a hand sanitizer dispensing system, the ventilator has taken FUTA’s contributions to the fight against the pandemic a notch higher. Fuwape said the role of scientists was to bring solutions to the problems of the society and it was laudable that FUTA was contributing its own quota to this end. He said there was the need for interdisciplinary collaboration as this will help in solving more problems and execution of projects through concerted research and exchange of ideas adding that the time has come to take interdisciplinary research to a whole new level. He lauded the contribution of the Federal Medical Centre Owo, Ondo State for collaborating with the researchers at the onset of the project saying the University was ready to partner with relevant health agencies and institutions in respect of the unique ventilator.