During the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, I’ve been diverted somewhat from my normal research on medical and fuel sprays to work on some urgent health care challenges. The first of these is the worldwide shortage of ventilators for COVID-19 patients. In some countries, surge demand can lead to patients being unable to get access to a ventilator. In dire circumstances, doctors have to weigh up the health risks of connecting two patients to one machine, or leaving someone without a ventilator. In those circumstances. Ventilator splitting is risky and dangerous if not done carefully, because no two patients are alike and we need to find a safe means of delivering different flow rates and pressures to each patient. In a preliminary study, we’ve shown that you can do this using standard off the shelf hospital equipment in an emergency.
In the next stage of this research, we’re going to show how we can use 3D printed parts to replace the tubing and clamps used in this study, as we know the supply of those parts is likely to run short, as with everything else. We’re also developed computational fluid dynamics models to predict the airflow through the 3D printed parts so we can test new designs in software without the need to run lots of time consuming laboratory tests.