BreatHere ventilator design makes top ten

By Taylor McClure, Special to The Record

The BreatHere ventilator design developed by the collaboration between Bishop’s University, Université de Sherbrooke, Cégèp de Sherbrooke, and various businesses in the region for the Code Life Ventilator Challenge has been selected as a top ten finalist for the competition.
The Code Life Ventilator Challenge was organized by Dr. Reza Farivar, who occupies the Canada Research Chair in Integrative Neuroscience, and Stuart Kozlick, a Professor of Practice at McGill University, to design easy to use and easily manufacturable ventilators to quickly fill in what has become a major need in the midst of the COVID-19 health crisis.
The three educational institutions recognized an opportunity to contribute to their community and they put together a team of 19 people to take on the challenge.
“We built a ventilator that is extremely easy to manufacture,” said Bruno Courtemanche, a Bishop’s University professor involved in the project. “We used food grade industrial components, we know the life cycle of these parts and how they react in different conditions, most of the parts are from industrial components and some are really simple physical concepts that we built and designed.”
They used water columns to regulate the pressure of the airflow that goes into the lungs. “There were three. There was one for the safety and overpressure and one for the minimal pressure to keep inside of the lungs. When we put air in the lungs we have to make sure there is enough pressure to keep the lungs open, and one for the maximum pressure given inside of the lungs also.”
Courtemanche was in charge of fine tuning the designs and he highlighted that it was a group effort that made the design possible. “It was Bishops, Université de Sherbrooke, Cégèp de Sherbrooke, and people from several companies so it was really a team effort from different institutions and companies.”
After building their porotype and entering their final submission, which consisted of 280 files, they were chosen to be amongst the top ten finalists. “The competition had about 2,600 participants and about 1,000 teams from 94 countries and from these 1,000 teams we were one of the ten selected teams,” emphasized Courtemanche.
“The prototypes are all currently being tested in Montreal at McGill’s Medical Simulation Centre and they are testing to make sure the prototypes are following regulations and requirements to be used as medical ventilators.”
The top three designs will then be selected and made available to manufactures all over the world. “They are supposed to be available to everyone and if any company wants to build one they can, but they will pre-select different manufacturers,” explained Courtemanche. “Each finalist can look at the application of different manufactures and say we want them to build it or this manufacture doesn’t seem fit to produce the materials. It’s just to make sure that we have enough parts around the world to build the ventilators.”
The selected designs will be eligible for up to $200,000 from manufacturers and other organizations.
The group of inventors is waiting patiently to find out the results of the prototype testing. “We don’t know yet but we are confident,” emphasized Courtemanche.

Published in the Friday, April 24 edition of The Record.

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