Page 28 - AutomationNOTEBOOK-vol44
P. 28

 Student Spotlight
CPAPs RE-INVENTed into Emergency Ventilators Using PLCs and HMIs
A team at Auburn University converts a CPAP machine to a high-functioning emergency ventilator, answering the call of a national ventilator shortage in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
 By Dr. Tom Burch, Auburn University
With the COVID-19 pandemic disrupting life as we know it throughout the world, health care facilities not only faced the grueling
challenge of caring for an influx of virus-affected patients, but also contended with projected shortages of necessary life-saving supplies. The ventilator—a machine providing respiration for patients unable to breathe on their own—has one of the highest media profiles of potentially scarce medical devices.
In an attempt to curb supply shortages, various organizations called on developers to build “emergency ventilators” with varying specifications. One such call was issued by the U.S. Air Force for the design of an emergency ventilator—using available, commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) components to avoid interference with medical supply chains.
A team at Auburn University’s Samuel Ginn College of Engineering responded with the RE-INVENT emergency ventilator, representing American innovation at its finest in a time of need. Several emergency ventilator creations have popped up recently, but some are unable to provide warm, moisturized air to help a patient breathe while utilizing proven hardware for the reliability required in life-critical applications. RE-INVENT does both, with an assist from AutomationDirect components.
Planting the Seed
The narrative began when engineer Ryan Hill at Integrated Solutions for Systems (IS4S) caught wind of the Air Force “Hack-a-Vent” challenge, calling
for the use of COTS parts totaling $300 or less to build an emergency ventilator. As a former Auburn engineering student, Hill approached Dr. Zabala
at the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering with
the thought that IS4S could manufacture ventila-
tors if provided a proper design. Zabala shared the information with Dr. Burch and Joe Reagan, and they
began working on rudimentary concepts to fulfill the Hack-a-Vent requirements.
However, the team soon shifted away from their early ideas, as it did not seem possible to build
a practical ventilator at the required components cost of $300. They were more interested in
creating a device for reliable application along-
side medical staff in the emergency room. Hack- a-Vent spurred development into motion, but the engineers ultimately abandoned some of the chal- lenge’s constraints in order to build a purposeful device able to provide life-support when called upon. Functionality and robustness became the primary design objectives, while keeping the price-point at a reasonable level.
Iterating Through the Generations – in Hyperspeed
A team member was already personally familiar with using continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines, and figured a standalone CPAP could be used as a temporary breathing aid for COVID-19 patients in the absence of a ventila-
Go to Article
Editor's Note
New Product Focus
- Expaded communications and analog I/O capabilities for the
- Control cabinet cable entry systems
- DURApulse® GS20 Series high performance AC drives
- ProSense® Advanced Process Conrollers
- Enclosure Thermoelectric Coolers
Tech Thread
Improvies, Adapt, Overcome
Business Notes
Cover Story
The Best Automation HMIs Keep Things Simple
What's New
User Solutions
- Water Utility Successfully Standardizes Automation Practices
- Automating the Hendrick's Gin Grand Garnisher
Student Spotlight
CPAPs RE-INVENT ed into Ventilators Using PLCs & HMIs
Break Room
  tor. The two devices perform a similar primary func- tion, with the ventilator adding pressure control for inhalation (inspiration) and exhalation (expiration).
If the CPAP—available in larger quantities and at cheaper cost than a ventilator—could be modified to take over respiration for the affected patient, it could operate as a ventilator.
By itself, a medical-grade CPAP provides warm, moisturized air to the lungs, but the team needed
a robust, reliable method to control air pressure to induce inspiration and expiration. They established
a setup with two electrically-actuated valves for breathing control and an additional valve to blend additional oxygen with the air. Dr. Burch was able to acquire solenoid valves from maintenance personnel
       Student Spotlight | Issue 44
continued >>
Brain Teasers

   26   27   28   29   30