Manufacturing R&D for personal protective equipment, supplies

Friday, May 08, 2020

Pathogen Management Kit

Sandia National Laboratories has developed and produced a simple add-on kit (Pathogen Management Kit, or PMK) that can quickly add on to ventilators of all types to disinfect exhaled air to keep healthcare workers safe. The PMK design consists of a polished aluminum tube that amplifies energy from embedded UV light to decontaminate the exhaled breath by disabling pathogens that pass through. The PMK was developed, built, and tested to ensure sufficient exposure of the entrained pathogens to UV energy. Using a UV light source to kill pathogens, rather than a filter, eliminates the possibility of clogging that is commonly experienced with HEPA designs. The unit was tested with the Phillips Respironics V60; however, because the unit does not add any flow resistance, it could be retrofitted into other existing respiratory assistance devices. The design utilizes commonly sourced, commercially available, off the shelf parts, with only a few requiring custom manufacturing. To prove the effectiveness of the device, Sandia deployed UV exposure measurements coupled with light-propagation modeling to ensure the design had significant margin over what would be required to kill live coronavirus. Sandia’s unique aerosol test facility also was used to ensure the design sufficiently killed.

Engineering, technology to help when critical equipment is in short supply

Sandia Labs has joined a coalition of national labs aiming to help ensure the nation has access to COVID-19 medical supplies. The coordinated effort is using innovative engineering and technology, such as 3D printing to bridge supply-chain gaps in masks, ventilators and one-time use supplies, such as testing swabs. An example of this effort is the labs’ help in assessing new decontamination processes to enable the reuse of N95 masks. With an eye to the future, the coalition is focusing on long-term solutions that could be applied broadly if the pandemic lasts longer than anticipated or returns in the future.

Converting respiratory machines for COVID-19 patients

To help New Mexico hospitals, Sandia has developed a kit that will convert BiPAP respiratory machines that are already on hand into machines that can be used as ventilators to help treat patients with severe cases of COVID-19. Non-invasive ventilators, BiPAPs and CPAPs, cannot currently be used to treat patients with COVID-19 because they expel a patient's breath into the room, contaminating the area with virus droplets and putting medical staff at risk of exposure. Sandia developed a system using ultraviolet light to ensure that COVID-19 and other pathogens are eliminated before the expelled air is circulated back into the hospital room. Sandia produced 100 systems for New Mexico hospitals and is working to make the systems more broadly available through a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement partner.