The High Energy Ventilator (HEV) was born during the COVID-19 pandemic. HEV is a ventilator designed to provide long term alveolar ventilation support to patients, both in and out of Intensive Care, for both intubated and mask/non-invasive cases. It is based on components which are simple and cheap to source, designed to comply with hospital standards, and to support the most requested ventilator-operation modes. In the interests of rapid development, the HEV team has presented the design to generate feedback, corrections and support as the project progresses. The proposal is one of several rapidly developing efforts launched by high-energy physicists to help combat COVID-19.

The HEV concept relies on easy-to-source components, which include electro-valves, a two-litre buffer container, a pressure regulator and several pressure sensors. Embedded components are being used to address portability requirements. The unit’s functionality will be comprehensive enough to provide long-term support to patients in the initial or recovery phases, or with more mild symptoms, freeing up high-end machines for the most serious intensive care.

The first stage of prototyping, which was achieved at CERN on 27 March, was to demonstrate that the HEV working principle is sound and allows the ventilator to operate within the required ranges of pressure and time. The desired physical characteristics of the pressure regulators, valves and pressure sensors were then refined, and the support of clinicians, international organisations and leading experts harnessed for further prototyping and non-clinical testing.

In June, tests performed using a TestChest lung simulator, under clinical supervision, demonstrated the effective performance of the Pressure Control and Pressure Support Modes of the HEV. In the Pressure Control Mode the HEV reached target pressures, and the flow and volume showed the expected shapes. In the Pressure Support Mode the HEV responded correctly to the patient demand, with less than a 100ms delay (which would be imperceptible to the patient), keeping very good synchronicity. The HEV also showed excellent performance on the key “PT300” and “PT500” numbers, which integrate the pressure rise over the first 300 ms and 500ms, respectively. Testing on 1st July at ETH Zürich further demonstrated the excellent performance of the HEV device. ETH Zürich developed a test rig in response to the need for rapid testing of ventilator devices during the COVID-19 pandemic. The tests included assessment of the accuracy of controls and instruments.

The HEV is now a fully functional prototype, and we are looking for partners who will integrate the design into a medical device that complies with applicable regulatory requirements.

Update based on an article that first appeared in the CERN Courier.

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