“Now that we have a design, we are working to pass the baton to the medical community, and ultimately to the patients, as quickly as possible,” said Fred Farina, director of innovation and business partnerships at Caltech.
The design offers some key benefits. NASA says it can be built faster and maintained more easily than traditional fans. It consists of fewer parts, which are currently available through existing supply chains, and can be modified for use in field hospitals such as those installed in convention centers. The device is designed to last three to four months, so it will not replace existing hospital ventilators, but it could fill critical shortages.
JPL generally does not design medical equipment, but in a video, several engineers expressed a desire to use their skills to help fight the COVID-19 pandemic. This is part of a growing trend for technologists to try to meet the demand for ventilators. We have seen repair campaigns, as well as fans made with gaming PC cases and Tesla parts. We have also learned, however, that while making fans is relatively easy, it is more difficult to rotate manufacturing.
“This fan is one of the countless examples of how taxpayer investments in space exploration – the skills, expertise and knowledge collected over decades of pushing the envelope and achieving firsts for the humanity – translate into progress that improves life on Earth, “said Jim Bridenstine, administrator of NASA in a statement.