BUET engineers develop low-cost ventilator

Sheikh Tausif Ahmed | Wednesday, 5 May 2021

A team of engineers from Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) has developed a low-cost oxygen supply instrument called OxyJet, an innovation which may offer lifeline to people severely affected by the Covid-19 in countries like Bangladesh.

According to the engineers involved, OxyJet can present effective treatment solution to Covid-19 patients by supplying high-flow oxygen with positive pressure. The coronavirus attacks people’s lungs and causes breathing problems.

OxyJet is a C-PAP ventilator, which uses the pressure of the medical oxygen source to generate a high-flow of air and oxygen mixture using the jet-mixing principle.

It can deliver up to 60 litres of oxygen per minute, said the team leader of the project undertaken by the BUET’s Department of Biomedical Engineering.

To create high-flow oxygen, it requires a C-PAP (Continuous Positive Air-way Pressure) ventilator, a conventional one which could cost up to Tk 100,000.

The OxyJet C-PAP would not require such cost but would be more efficient solution to this problem, Dr. Taufiq Hasan, an assistant professor and the team leader of the project told this author.

Firstly, according to project document, the system is completely mechanical and doesn’t require electricity. This provides the machine an edge over traditional C-PAPs which would require constant electricity and cannot be used in remote areas or in an ambulance. Secondly, the device costs about Tk 2,000 only (full system, with masks and cylinder costs more) which is a fraction of the traditional market price.

“Conventional C-PAPs use a vented mask which disperses virus particles in the air through aerosolization. We use a tightly fitted non-vented C-PAP mask with a viral filter to reduce such contamination,” said the team leader.

He explained that all traditional C-PAPs do not include an oxygen port in the inlet and thus cannot provide an oxygen concentration (FiO2) up to 100 per cent. “OxyJet C-PAP is designed for treating hypoxemic patients in mind and can provide up to 100 per cent FiO2. Besides, Oxyjet is very easy to use for doctors as its user interface consists of a flow-meter knob, that can be rotated to increase or decrease the oxygen flow.”

The team believes the project is promising as it would be able to provide low-cost, energy efficient and valuable high-pressure oxygen for patients, even beyond the pandemic.

It has been under development for the last 10 months and will now go through the 3rd phase of the clinical trials.

“We are planning to open-source the design after the trial is complete. Manufacturing and mass-production related decisions will be made by the BUET administration,” said Dr. Hasan about manufacturing.

The BUET team includes lecturer Kawsar Ahmed and lecturer Saeedur Rahman and also graduate research assistants Meemnur Rashid, Kaisar Ahmed and Farhad Muhib.

A clinical trial team consisting of competent medical personnels will oversee the trials. 

“We believe that this device can have a great impact on Bangladesh and other developing countries that have limited ICU facilities,” added Dr. Hasan.

Such low cost and effective inventions from the academic arena are considered to be an encouraging development. This C-PAP device could also offer solution to countries that are struggling to treat Covid-19 patients, the team said.
Sheikh Tausif Ahmed is a 3rd-year BSS student at the Department of Economics, Dhaka University.

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