Mercedes F1 help develop coronavirus breathing device for health service use
Mercedes High Performance Powertrains have produced engines that have won eight constructorsâ€™ championships and 10 driversâ€™ championships in Formula 1, and as part of â€˜Project Pitlaneâ€™ theyâ€™re now helping turn the tide in the battle against coronavirus.
A breathing aid developed by engineers at Mercedes HPP, engineers at University College London (UCL) and clinicians at UCL Hospital has now been approved for use by the UK’s National Health Service in the battle against coronavirus.
This respiratory device, the â€˜Continuous Positive Airway Pressureâ€™ (CPAP), is a breathing aid that helps coronavirus patients with serious lung infections to breathe and avoid having to use â€˜invasive mechanical ventilationâ€™ â€“ breathing devices that involve tubes through the skin or mouth.
But there arenâ€™t currently enough CPAP devices in UK hospitals to cope with the surge in patients suffering from coronavirus.
The engineers and clinicians worked since March 18 at UCLâ€™s engineering hub to reverse-engineer an existing CPAP device, used in Italian and Chinese hospitals, to be mass-produced. Now, the UK regulatory board has recommended it for use.
According to UCL, â€œIt took fewer than 100 hours from the initial meeting to production of the first device.â€
Clinical trials have begun at UCL and a roll-out is coming soon.
Andy Cowell, Mercedes HPPâ€™s Managing Director, said: â€œThe Formula 1 community has shown an impressive response to the call for support, coming together in the â€˜Project Pitlaneâ€™ collective to support the national need at this time across a number of different projects.
â€œWe have been proud to put our resources at the service of UCL to deliver the CPAP project to the highest standards and in the fastest possible timeframe.â€
Professor Tim Baker of UCLâ€™s Mechanical Engineering department lauded the partnership. He said: â€œGiven the urgent need, we are thankful that we were able to reduce a process that could take years down to a matter of days.
â€œFrom being given the brief, we worked all hours of the day, disassembling and analysing an off-patent device. Using computer simulations, we improved the device further to create a state-of-the-art version suited to mass production.
â€œWe were privileged to be able to call on the capability of Formula 1 â€“ a collaboration made possible by the close links between UCL Mechanical Engineering and HPP.â€
UCLâ€™s Vice Provost, Health, Professor David Lomas, added that the collaboration â€œshows what can be done when universities, industry and hospitals join forces for the national good.â€
The other six UK-based F1 teams inÂ Project PitlaneÂ are also working to aid the UKâ€™s efforts to treat patients suffering from coronavirus. Those teams are Red Bull, Racing Point, Haas, McLaren, Renault and Williams.