Cambridge Design Partnership designs life saving respiratory humidifier

Cambridge Design Partnership has announced that it has developed a working prototype of a respiratory humidifier for the NHS.

Respiratory humidifier mouthpiece close-up
Respiratory humidifier mouthpiece close-up

In 2009 CDP was awarded funding through the Patient Safety category of the SBRI East award – the government’s programme to bring innovation to the public sector.  The NHS innovation group Health Enterprise East administered this.

The project was initiated by Dr Keith Turner, a physicist working for CDP who identified a need for an improved respiratory humidifier.

Ventilators used on intensive care units keep patients alive by delivering air for them to breathe. Humidifiers are attached to the ventilators to heat and humidify the air-to-body conditions.

A side effect of the humidifying process is the build up of condensation or what is known as ‘rainout’  which accumulates in the breathing circuit.

Prototype testing
Prototype testing

Microbes can accumulate here causing infection – the most common of which is Ventilator Associated Pneumonia.

The CDP design, which is ‘smaller then a desk top PC and fits onto a ventilator,’ according to CDP mechanical engineer Dr Ian Radcliffe, is formed of two components which ‘pump, cool and heat air,’ he says. A heat and moisture exchanger allows heated air to be returned to the body at the correct body temperature, 37 degrees, with no moisture in the breathing circuit.

Radcliffe says, ‘We’ve done engineering demonstrations and now we’re moving onto design for manufacture.’

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