Engineers from Mercedes' F1 team have - in less than 100 hours - helped to develop a breathing aid that can keep coronavirus patients out of intensive care. The team worked around-the-clock with engineers from University College London and clinicians at UCL Hospital to further improve an existing respiratory device that has been used in Chinese and Italian hospitals.
The result is a state-of-the-art version, which has been approved for use by the UK’s NHS, and adapted so it can be mass-produced.
“We were privileged to be able to call on the capability of Formula 1,” said Professor Tim Baker of UCL’s mechanical engineering department. “We were able to reduce a process that could take years down to a matter of days.”
The device, which pushes oxygen into the lungs to keep them open, reduces the effort needed to breathe in, especially when the air sacs in the lungs have collapsed due to COVID-19.
It will help coronavirus patients with serious lung infections to breathe and negates the need for invasive mechanical ventilation, which requires patients to be heavily sedated.
“From being given the brief, we worked all hours of the day, disassembling and analysing an off-patent device,” said Tim. “Using computer simulations, we improved the device further to create a state-of-the-art version suited to mass production.”
Mercedes-AMG-HPP will soon be producing up to 1,000 per day.
The new device will help to save lives by ensuring that ventilators, which are in short supply, are used to treat only the worst-affected patients.
It is thought the UK alone could need 20,000 extra ventilators to deal with the pandemic. Mercedes has also been working with the six other UK-based F1 teams, as part of Project Pitlane, to bolster the UK’s efforts to treat COVID-19 patients with severe breathing difficulties.
They are using their engineering expertise to manufacture other medical equipment, which is urgently needed in intensive care units.
“The Formula 1 community has shown an impressive response to the call for support,” said Andy Cowell, Mercedes HPP’s Managing Director.
What sets all F1 teams apart is their ability to rapidly design and manufacture complex products quickly.
Meanwhile, INEOS TEAM UK, who had been focused on building their racing boat for next year’s America’s Cup challenge at their base in Portsmouth, have also joined in the fight to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
“In these circumstances, preventing the spread of COVID-19 has to be everyone’s top priority,” said skipper Sir Ben Ainslie. “Everyone has a part to play.”
There is a nationwide initiative to ease the pressure on hospitals by creating ‘red zone’ surgeries where low-risk patients, showing COVID-19 symptoms, can be examined.
INEOS TEAM UK will be supplying personal protective equipment through their suppliers including respirators, gloves and safety goggles, to their local ‘red zone’ surgery.
The team are also using their manufacturing capacity and 3D printer at their base in Portsmouth to produce 50 PPE re-useable masks per week which will be sent to the same surgery.
In addition, the team’s design co-ordinator, Jonathan Nichols, and James Roche, head of simulation, have been supporting a team at Imperial College London in designing new ventilators.
“Although their project wasn’t chosen by the UK government, Imperial College will continue to look into developing the ventilator,” said a team spokesman. “And we have put them in touch with a long list of suppliers and experts to help them.”
INEOS TEAM UK manufacture PPE face shields to support fight against COVID-19
INEOS TEAM UK is supporting the fight against the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic by manufacturing PPE face shields for key workers in the local area around their team base in Portsmouth.
Utilising the manufacturing capacity and resource within the team base, including 3D printers and sailmakers, together with additional resource from the existing team partnership with Mercedes-Benz Applied Science (MBAS), INEOS TEAM UK and MBAS will together be producing an initial total of over 100 PPE face shields a day.