Cambridge engineers working on new design of iron lung

Cambridge engineers are part of a group who are looking to redesign a life-saving piece of medical equipment to fight Covid-19.

The iron lung was a permanent fixture in hospitals throughout the world in the 20th century. It was used to treat polio victims and people with other respiratory illnesses.

Also known as a negative pressure ventilator, it uses pressurised cylinders to create a vacuum to push oxygen into a patient's lungs.

Now engineers from Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group have teamed up with the University of Warwick and medical experts to reinvent the machine. They hope it will be an alternative to the ventilators which the NHS is currently short of.

ITV News has reported how the region's Formula One Teams have united to produce them.

The exovent Credit: John Hunter - Steer Energy

The group says the new model is "a cutting-edge reinvention of the archetypal iron lung, a Negative Pressure Ventilator (NPV), which is non-invasive and allows the patient to remain conscious throughout treatment."

In a statement on the firm's website it says:

It also says the machine would be able to be used on non specialist wards, freeing up intensive care beds.

The consorium is aiming to produce around 5,000 devices every week

“Clearly there is still long way to go but I am very excited about the potential of the Exovent product. It has so many positive attributes in terms of cost, ease of production and application, and at the same time doesn’t use any of the same parts that are being used in the production of the much needed positive pressure ventilators,”said Patrick.

The Exovent concept is also supported by WMG at the University of Warwick and representatives from Imperial NHS Trust and The Royal National Throat Nose and Ear hospital. Two leading intensive care units have agreed to trial the prototype ventilator support devices

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