SILVER

Ventilators

We are creating a ventilator that is cheap, easy to use, able to be mass produced, and made with easy to find materials.
April Cao Cheri Dang
Grade 7

Problem

The problem we are trying to solve is that during the SARS-COV2 pandemic, people have died because their symptoms will deteriorate very rapidly. We want to solve this problem by making a cheap and easy-to-use ventilator that could be used at home in situations like this. Sometimes, COVID-19 patients will be seen with mild to no symptoms for the first few days. Then, around 6-7 days, their symptoms will start rapidly getting worse. There will start to be signs of deteriorating symptoms about 6 hours before. Most people are unable to notice these symptoms and won't realize that they are getting worse until it's nearly too late. At a time like this, they can use our ventilator to temporarily give themselves air. This will help control the symptoms and can help them survive until they are able to get professional medical care.  

 

Method

1. The Resuscitator

We built the resuscitator by taking a plastic tube and heating it at each end. At one end we attached a large funnel to act as a mask and on the other end, we attached an air camera cleaner on the other to act as the bag. The bag is the part of the resuscitator which is squeezed to give the patient air. The bag would be made of silicone rubber in a real resuscitator. We then wrapped some tape around each end to additionally secure the funnel and camera cleaner. The resuscitator is the part that can be manually squeezed to give a patient air. Once we add on the lego squeezer, it changes to a ventilator since it is now controlled by a machine. 

2. The Lego

We have built a lego machine that can squeeze the bag of the resuscitator. This lego machine is a robot that is designated for picking things up and squeezing. It has many parts. The main part is the claw. This is made from LEGO EV3 pieces and will squeeze and release the bag of the resuscitator consistently.  The squeezing and releasing are controlled by a button on the lego robot.

3. The Lungs

We built the lungs by using a plastic tube and attaching one cut piece of the tube into the top tube of a y-connector. The top end of the y-connector represents a larynx and the bottom two ends connect to balloons to represent lungs. This is what the ventilator is tested on. If the lungs inflate, it is because they are getting air. If they don’t, it means the ventilator is unsuccessful in bringing air to the lungs. 

Analysis

This was our first ventilator. The resuscitator was made from one long tube with a funnel, as a mask, on one end, and an air camera cleaner as the bag. The LEGO was made from online instructions designated for making a robot that would pick objects up. We changed it so that it would squeeze better. It was coded so that when a button was pressed, it would start squeezing the resuscitator and when it was pressed again, it would stop squeezing the resuscitator. 

 

1

2

3

4

5

Did the Lungs Inflate?

No

No

No

No

No

 

This chart shows how successful our testing was for our first prototype was. We tested each one 5 times so that it would be more accurate whether it inflated or not. When we tested this one, each time, the claws would break off. It was because they would get too loose and then the claws could move more freely, which wasn’t what we wanted. What we decided to do was add little pieces on the end to stop them from coming loose. Then, we tested the ventilator again.

This is our second ventilator. The resuscitator was the same as the previous one. We also had the same LEGO as before but with extra pieces on the end. We also had the button to control the squeezing of the LEGO claws. 

 

1

2

3

4

5

Did the Lungs Inflate?

No

No

No

No

No

 

This chart shows how successful our ventilator is. Since the lungs didn’t inflate all 5 times, it means that our ventilator failed. When this one was tested, there was no more breaking off of the claws. This time, it would gently touch down on the air camera cleaner without actually squeezing. This was far too little power to squeeze air into someone’s lungs. We decided to change it to something that pushed rather than squeezed hoping that that would allow it to be stronger.

 

This is our third ventilator. We have changed the robot to a scissor lift. It expands and contracts and pushes the air camera cleaner down. The resuscitator is still the same as before (air camera cleaner attached to a tube that is attached to a funnel).

 

1

2

3

4

5

Did the Lungs Inflate?

No

No

No

No

No

 

The chart above shows how our testing went. We tested it 5 times to make sure that our findings were as accurate as possible. It was unsuccessful all 5 times. This was because it didn’t have any support so it spazzed around. It wouldn’t press down and softly touched the air camera cleaner. We realized that a machine that squeezed, not pushed, was better because it had something on the other side to keep it in control.

This is our fourth ventilator. It is almost the exact same as the second one. What we realized was that since we were using LEGO as the squeezer, it was too weak to press down on something as strong as an air camera cleaner. We changed the air camera cleaner to a material that was weaker so that it would be able to squeeze air into the lungs. 

 

1

2

3

4

5

Did the Lungs Inflate?

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

Yes

 

The chart above shows how our testing went. This time, the results were much better with the improved resuscitator. You can see the improvement in the success rate. It was in control of the resuscitator and was powerful enough to push air out.

Conclusion

Our problem was to create a cheap and easy-to-use at-home ventilator. The last time we tested the ventilator with our newest prototype, it was able to successfully inflate the balloons most of the time. This shows that we have created a ventilator that can be used to give someone air. This ventilator is also made of very cheap materials so the ventilator will be cheap to purchase and produce. Our main source of error was that we were using LEGO so it was hard to make something strong enough to squeeze an air camera cleaner, which is decently firm. We have plans in the future to make something that is stronger and made of better and stronger materials. We are also hoping to add an oxygen tank in the future so that it’s more effective and can help a patient more. We are also planning on changing the LEGO motors to actual motors so that it would be stronger and push more air into the lungs of the patient. 

 

Citations

AEDSuperstore. (2018, May). Questions and Answers about Bag Valve Masks. https://aedsuperstore.com/resources/ultimate-ambu-bag-faq/

American Lung Association. (2020, April). How Lungs Work. https://www.lung.org/lung-health-diseases/how-lungs-work#:~:text=Your%20lungs%20are%20part%20of,body%20while%20removing%20waste%20gases

Basic components of a mechanical ventilator. (2020). https://derangedphysiology.com/main/cicm-primary-exam/required-reading/respiratory-system/Chapter%20501/basic-components-mechanical

BBC. (2021, January). Ambulance waiting times in parts of England “off the scale.” https://www.bbc.com/news/health-55581006

Britannica. (2001). Trachea. https://www.britannica.com/science/trachea 

Bronchioles and alveoli in the lungs. (2002). https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/bronchiolitis/multimedia/bronchioles-and-alveoli/img-20008702#:~:text=In%20your%20lungs%2C%20the%20main,tiny%20air%20sacs%20(alveoli).

Engineering 360. (2015). Resuscitators Information. https://www.globalspec.com/learnmore/specialized_industrial_products/medical_equipment_supplies/resuscitators#:~:text=Resuscitators%20are%20normally%20made%20of,gas%20regulators%20(powered%20resuscitators).

Heathline. (2020). How Mild COVID-19 Symptoms Can Quickly Turn Serious. https://www.healthline.com/health-news/mild-covid-19-symptoms-can-quickly-turn-serious#:~:text=People%20with%20mild%20symptoms%20of,if%20your%20symptoms%20are%20mild

Hoffman, M. (2020, July). Picture of the Sinuses. https://www.webmd.com/allergies/picture-of-the-sinuses

IDSMED. (2019, January). How Does A Ventilator Work? https://www.idsmed.com/hk-en/news/how-does-a-ventilator-work_398.html

Innerbody Research. (2020, November). Respiratory System. https://www.innerbody.com/anatomy/respiratory

NIH. (2018). Pharynx. https://training.seer.cancer.gov/anatomy/respiratory/passages/pharynx.html#:~:text=The%20pharynx%2C%20commonly%20called%20the,water%20from%20the%20oral%20cavity.

NIH. (2020a). Ventilator/Ventilator Support. https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/ventilatorventilator-support

NIH. (2020b, October). How the Lungs Work. https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/how-lungs-work#:~:text=serious%20health%20problem.-,Breathing%20in,and%20outward%20when%20you%20inhale

Oxford Medicine Online. (2017, June). Ventilator System Composition. https://oxfordmedicine.com/view/10.1093/med/9780198784975.001.0001/med-9780198784975-chapter-5

Science Direct. (2018). Reservoir Bag. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/nursing-and-health-professions/reservoir-bag#:~:text=Reservoir%20bags%20are%20bladder%2Dtype,1%20L%20to%208%20L

Virtual Medical Center. (2012, June). Anatomy and Physiology of the Nasal Cavity (Inner Nose) and Mucosa. https://www.myvmc.com/medical-centres/lungs-breathing/anatomy-and-physiology-of-the-nasal-cavity-inner-nose-and-mucosa/

Visible Body. (2016, December). Anatomy and Physiology: The Pharynx and Epiglottis. https://www.visiblebody.com/blog/anatomy-and-physiology-the-pharynx-and-epiglottis#:~:text=The%20nasopharynx%20functions%20as%20an,the%20adenoids%2C%20or%20pharyngeal%20tonsils.&text=Oropharynx-,Image%20from%20Human%20Anatomy%20Atlas.,the%20respiratory%20and%20digestive%20systems

WebMD. (2019, November). Respiratory System. https://www.webmd.com/lung/how-we-breathe

WebMD. (2020, March). What Does a Ventilator Do? https://www.webmd.com/lung/coronavirus-ventilators

Solway, A. (2007). The respiratory system (1208140223 900712023 A. Woolf, Ed.). Chicago, Illinois: Weigl.

Donaldson, O. (2015). Influenza. New York, New York: Cavendish Square Publishing.

Acknowledgement

We would like to acknowledge our teacher, Mr. Brush, for teaching us how to code a LEGO EV3 machine. We would also like to acknowledge Dr. Chris Lee for teaching us about the different types of ventilators that are used in hospitals so that we had something to compare ours to. We would also like to acknowledge the science fair coordinators for organizing this and allowing us the opportunity to express ourselves through science. Lastly, we would like to acknowledge our friends and family for helping and supporting us throughout the entire process.