Published: 16th June 2021
This wearable ventilation system for PPEs developed by an engineering student will make life easier for frontline workers
Called the Cov-Tech Ventilation System, it can be attached to any kind of PPE kit and can be worn between 6-8 hours. We find out more
For frontliners, wearing PPE kits along with umpteen number of layers of all kinds of protection while serving COVID patients has become a mammoth task. Then comes the profuse sweating, feeling of uneasiness and the risk of fungal or bacterial infection as doctors, medical staff wear them for unusually long hours. This is what 19-year-old Nihaal Singh Adarsh's mother was going through every day and he decided to do something about it. A second year engineering student at the KJ Somaiya College of Engineering, Mumbai, Nihaal developed a belt-like wearable ventilation system for PPE kits. Called the Cov-Tech Ventilation System, it can be attached to any kind of PPE kit and can be worn for 6-8 hours.
On being asked what inspired him to make this device, Nihaal says it was for his mother who is a doctor and is spending hours in a PPE kit, during the pandemic. "She told me most doctors were facing it. In May last year, my college KJ Somaiya Institute of Management and its business incubator RIIDL organised a design challenge for creating solutions for COVID-19. I spoke to my mother, Dr Poonam Kaur Adarsh, who deals with COVID patients regularly. She told me about the issues they face and that's when I decided to attempt to solve this problem," he explains.
Nihaal Singh Adarsh
Nihaal sketched the first prototype and then called one of his seniors and asked whether they can build something like a ventilation system for PPEs. "My senior helped me out with the initial design. I travelled alone in the month of May from Pune to Mumbai, took special permission from college and the state government. I was given the keys to the prototype development lab in my college and I was alone on campus. I stayed in the same hostel room and worked on it. RIIDL had issued a letter stating that I was working on a COVID-related project. I had to get my RT-PCR test done and then I was allowed to work on it in my college premises," recalls Nihaal.
The first working prototype of the Cov-Tech Ventilation System was developed in 21 days but the entire thing took a year to finalise, he says. So, how does it work?
"It is like a simple belt fastened around your waist and then you wear a PPE suit on top of it. It works as a plug and play device to any kind of PPE suit. It will suck in air from outside, it will filter it through a polypropylene fibre filter with more than 99% filtration efficiency and then push it inside the PPE suit. It follows a continuous process and a constant airflow is maintained," explains the 19-year-old. The system is reusable as the filter which is worth Rs 10-15 can be changed frequently. It also has a lithium ion battery that once charged can last up to four hours.
The Cov-Tech Ventilation System | Pic: Nihaal
The most daunting challenge he faced was to create something that is highly economical. The device is currently priced at Rs 5499. "We also had to ensure it is non-invasive with the working of the person. It could be used for medical, pharma industries where people generally also wear PPEs and not hamper free motion. We received a provisional patent last year and the device is already out in the market. Around 25 units have been distributed and 50 are in the pipeline. We have provided these to hospitals in Pune and other cities including Mumbai, Nagpur, Jammu, Trichy, Allahabad," shares Nihaal.
Nihaal wants to reach out to more doctors, PPE suit wearers to share his innovation. "We are also developing a ventilated mask, another small clip like structure, non-invasive device that will reduce the mist on spectacles when you wear a mask. We have several other things in mind," he concludes.