KNUST designs and builds Ghana’s first homemade ventilator

The College of Engineering, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), has reached the advanced stage in the design and construction of a homemade ventilator.

The project is a joint work between the College’s Computer Engineering Department and Michigan Technological University, United States (US).

The project aims at boosting health service delivery for patients with breathing deficiencies and disorders.

Professor Kwame Osei Boateng heads the KNUST side with Dr. Yacub Ahmed as the students’ project supervisor.

Production of prototypes dubbed ‘IBV and KNUST Ventilators’, have been done.

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This is a major breakthrough as Ghana joins the rest of the world to fight the COVID-19 (coronavirus) disease.

More so, the cost of materials and technology used in building the prototype portable ventilators were less expensive.

What Went Into The Making of The Ventilator

On the other hand, the next stage of the project is to implement a feedback system to automate start/stop events, depending on signals fed from a patient.

“The results and analysis of the machine performance using the ‘Kruskal Wallis H’ test showed that the H was less than the critical value (H˂11.0705) – which means that the null hypothesis is valid.

This implies that there is no difference between the Peak Inspiratory Pressure (PIP) values, the highest level of pressure applied to the lungs during inhalation, comparing the KNUST Ventilator with those commercially available,” Professor Boateng, disclosed in an interview.

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Furthermore, the re-engineering of the ventilator was by six final year Biomedical Engineering undergraduate students; Akwasi Darkwah Akwaboah, Josephine Owusu-Akyaw, Ayesha Tiwaa Ahmad, Isaac Kumi Koduah, Stephen Kwabena Asante and Afua Boakyewaa Appiah.

Also, the project is in in two parts by two sub-teams – packaging/mechanical and electrical/programming.

The packaging/mechanical sub-team focused on the design of the final exterior casing and pneumatics (gas flow and tubing), while the electronic/programing dealt with the electronic circuit design, the device operating algorithm construction, microcontroller programming and other electrical/electronics’ needs of the project.

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As part of enhancements to the project, the team was considering the use of externals signals from the muscle of the conscious patient; as feedback signal to trigger the ventilator into operation “when the need arises and to stop it when no longer needed.”

An Interview With The Provost of The College of Engineering, KNUST

The Provost of the KNUST CoE, Prof. Mark Adom-Asamoah, said that breathing was an essential human function necessary for the sustenance of life.

Nonetheless, millions who have breathing deficiencies were usually unable to access or afford this care unfortunately he added.

This, he said, was due to the expensive nature of the few available ventilators, which were even bulky in nature.

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Currently, the world is facing a critical shortage of mechanical ventilators due to the upsurge in COVID-19 cases.

Additionally, between 10 and 25 per cent of patients sick with the disease require assistance to breathe in estimate.

Also from the Johns Hopkins University roughly 5% of patients will develop acute respiratory distress; at which point only a mechanical ventilator can drive oxygen intro their lungs and push fluid out.

After clinical testing, the Professor is optimistic large scale production for nationwide usage will be done soon.

Ghana has so far recorded 566 cases of COVID-19 and eight deaths.

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