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Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City team to submit ventilator prototype for FDA emergency approval

Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City (Naval Sea Systems Command/Released)

As one team edges ahead in a national competition launched by the Department of Defense, another team of engineers at Naval Surface Warfare Center has developed a working prototype that vies with other commercial ventilators.

“The computer runs it. And it’s smaller than a shoe box,” said NSWC Mechanical Engineer Jacob Corman. “Software controls the gas to deliver the appropriate amount of volume for breathing.”

Commercial ventilators are in short supply across the country as demand has risen because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is not something a typical person would build at home,” Corman said. However, the simplicity involved in the operation of the ventilator is competitive to those on the market in the commercial sector.

“We are looking to team with an industry partner to find someone who can manufacture it,” he added.

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The team intends to submit the design to the Food and Drug Administration to be included in an Emergency Use Authorization letter for the health care industry, “which would allow hospitals and other facilities to use this during the crisis to supplement available FDA-approved ventilators,” Corman said in an email regarding the prototype.

The material costs of the product is about $850. The machine can be assembled in less than two hours. While another team of NSWC engineers have developed a do-it-yourself prototype for a national contest, Corman said he and his teammates have designed “a supplement to the existing supply” of commercial ventilators.

“We found some industrial valves and we wrote the software ourselves, so we’ve cut out some of the electronics that could be in short supply,” he said. “All we would need is the flow valves.”

The 5-pound, highly portable design is powered by a 12-volt battery or power adapter to a standard wall outlet, meaning, as long as there is power, the ventilator will run. The gas that is used to support breathing is easily available to hospitals or can be found at any gas supply store.

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© 2020 The News Herald