Artificial respirator: strength in unity


Our national motto is very topical in the current health crisis. More than 200 volunteers, academics, engineers, manufacturers, politicians and financiers have joined forces to accomplish a feat: to produce "Breath4life", an artificial respirator prototype, in just 10 days.

This respirator is created in response to an emergency and not for a commercial purpose. "This avoids financial challenges and helps to speed up the authorisation, validation and production process. All this whilst also complying with very strict specifications which, as far as possible, are in line with the needs of hospital environments," explains Olivier Lequenne, Development Director of the Jolimont group.

The work led in parallel by the different contributors has helped to simultaneously tackle aspects concerning prototyping, certification, production, funding, and so on, all of which is valuable for saving time in this race against the clock. Several solutions, explored together in a spirit of collaboration, help to quickly achieve a result. The exceptional challenge demands exceptional methods.

The "Breath4Life" respirator was designed at UCLouvain's OpenHub. It was tested successfully on an artificial lung on Wednesday 25 March. Production and deployment are centralised by Coexpair, which works with many Belgian firms (Covartim, Elia, IBA, Odoo, ATLR Engineering, etc.). Many other companies are prepared to commit to the next steps (Sonaca, FN Herstal, Safran Aero Boosters, etc.). This great cooperation will enable delivery to hospitals within one week at the most.