Dubbed the “Novel Emergency Response Ventilator” (NERVe), the design is derived from proven concepts and contains parts that are not being used by commercial ventilator manufacturers, to avoid disrupting already thin supply chains. It is designed to meet the functional requirements of COVID-19 patients requiring mechanical ventilation, including a simple user interface, air flow circuits for inhalation and exhalation, and alarms to notify physicians if air pressures get too low. It can operate in a continuous ventilation mode — common for late-stage COVID-19 patients — but can adapt to patients who spontaneously breathe on their own.
Determined to contribute to the fight against COVID-19, the Laboratory team set about developing a prototype ventilator system that could potentially serve as a stopgap solution until ventilator manufacturers could catch up to the anticipated demand. The design would have to be adequately functional and suitable for medical use, but simple enough that it could be mass produced from off-the-shelf parts, to make the greatest impact on the global health crisis.
They first looked at CPAP machines — breathing aids commonly used to treat sleep apnea — as a potential viable option for sourcing components. When that proved unfeasible, the team started from scratch, studying ventilator design and manufacturing as well as talking to medical professionals. The team includes 20 scientists and engineers from the Lab’s Computing, Engineering and Physical and Life Sciences directorates.
Building something fast that can get through FDA approval, is easy to operate and doesn’t interfere with the supply chain is a key to helping people with COVID-19.
Currently there are several companies interested in working with LLNL to help mass produce and commercialize the prototype ventilator.
For additional information see: NERVe info