The design, testing, and validation of the Illinois RapidVent emergency ventilator has been published in the journal Plos One. The article, “Emergency Ventilator for COVID-19,” by University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign researchers, is the first of its kind to report such details about an emergency ventilator that was designed, prototyped, and tested at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
“This article reports the development and testing of the RapidVent emergency ventilator,” said William King, a professor in MechSE and in the Carle Illinois College of Medicine, and leader of the RapidVent project. “The research shows integration of different disciplines to develop a medical device, including science-based engineering, ultra-rapid design and manufacturing, functional testing, and animal testing.”
The Grainger College of Engineering, Carle Illinois College of Medicine, and industry partners launched the Illinois RapidVent project to address ventilator shortages in spring 2020. The goal was to design an emergency ventilator that could be rapidly and inexpensively produced.
“Publication of this work helps to share our knowledge with the public and acknowledge the outstanding intellectual contributions of our team members,” said King Li, Dean of the Carle Illinois College of Medicine.
The RapidVent team consisted of more than 50 people who worked together to develop an emergency ventilator in less than three weeks. The Illinois RapidVent is easy to produce in part because it has few components and can be powered from pressured air or oxygen.
Testing numerous Illinois RapidVent prototypes using test lungs at the Creative Thermal Solutions facility in Urbana, IL. The prototypes ran for more than 1.9 million breathing cycles total by April 2, 2020.
“The rapid development and successful delivery of the functional Illinois RapidVent is yet another amazing display of collaborative interdisciplinary research, and a testament of what can be achieved here at Illinois for our community, society, and global health,” said Stephen Boppart, Executive Associate Dean and Chief Diversity Officer of Carle Illinois College of Medicine. “It’s a primary example of how engineering- and technology-based medicine can support the land-grant mission of our university. The team members from Carle Illinois College of Medicine were proud to help catalyze this effort.”
“Emergency Ventilator for COVID-19” reports how the team developed their ventilator design based on the needs of physicians. The team then used digital design and advanced manufacturing for ultra-rapid development of prototypes, followed by detailed functional testing, durability testing, and animal testing.
To support safe use of the device, the team also developed an electronic monitoring system and detailed training materials that can be used by physicians. The monitoring system became Illinois RapidAlarm, an open-source sensor and alarm system that makes emergency ventilators, such as the Illinois RapidVent, more useful during a crisis.
“The RapidVent team built upon relationships forged through Carle Illinois College of Medicine. This focus on engineering and medicine is the exact vison we shared – one that would generate practical solutions to healthcare opportunities and challenges,” said Dr. Mark Johnson, Carle Health physician and RapidVent team member.
The University of Illinois made the RapidVent technology available through a free license in April 2020. The license includes access to device designs, training materials, and a testing report. Since then, more than 70 organizations have accessed the technology from 15 different countries. There are multiple efforts underway to make use of RapidVent, including two companies that have announced their intention to commercialize the technology.
The article is available online: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0244963
The 55 co-authors on the article include:
William P. King, Jennifer Amos, Magdi Azer, Daniel Baker, Rashid Bashir, Catherine Best, Eliot Bethke, Stephen A. Boppart, Elisabeth Bralts, Ryan M. Corey, Rachael Dietkus, Gary Durack, Stefan Elbel, Greg Elliott, Jake Fava, Nigel Goldenfeld, Molly H. Goldstein, Courtney Hayes, Nicole Herndon, Shandra Jamison, Blake Johnson, Harley Johnson, Mark Johnson, John Kolaczynski, Tonghun Lee, Sergei Maslov, Davis J. McGregor, Derek Milner, Ralf Moller, Jonathan Mosley, Andy Musser, Max Newberger, David Null, Lucas O’Bryan, Michael Oelze, Jerry O’Leary, Alex Pagano, Michael Philpott, Brian Pianfetti, Alex Pille, Luca Pizzuto, Brian Ricconi, Marcello Rubessa, Sam Rylowicz, Clifford Shipley, Andrew C. Singer, Brian Stewart, Rachel Switzky, Sameh Tawfick, Matthew Wheeler, Karen White, Evan M. Widloski, Eric Wood, Charles Wood, and Abigail R. Wooldridge.