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Mercedes repurposes Brixworth plant to produce breathing devices

NEWS STORY
07/04/2020

Mercedes has revealed that its Brixworth plant, where its title-winning F1 engines are produced, has been repurposed solely for the production of CPAP devices.

"The UCL-Ventura breathing aid, a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) device, helps Covid-19 patients with lung infections to breathe more easily, when an oxygen mask alone is insufficient," said Mercedes in a press release today.

"CPAP devices are in short supply in UK hospitals, so engineers at UCL and Mercedes-AMG HPP worked round-the-clock to reverse engineer a device that could be manufactured rapidly by the thousands.

"The breathing aid was produced within a rapid timeframe – it took fewer than 100 hours from the initial meeting to production of the first device. Mark II of the device, which has reduced oxygen consumption by up to 70% compared to the Mark I model, received MHRA regulatory approval last week.

"The UCL-Ventura has now undergone patient evaluations at UCLH and across sister hospitals in the London area. After a UK Government order for up to 10,000, the devices are being produced at a rate of up to 1,000 a day at the HPP technology centre in Brixworth, Northamptonshire. Currently, 40 machines that would normally produce F1 pistons and turbochargers are being used for production of the CPAP devices, and the entire Brixworth facility has been repurposed to meet this demand.

"These life-saving devices are relatively simple to manufacture and can be produced quickly," said Professor Rebecca Shipley, Director of UCL Institute of Healthcare Engineering. "We hope that, by making the blueprints publicly available, they can be used to improve the resilience of healthcare systems preparing for the Covid-19 pandemic globally. My thanks goes to the brilliant engineers, business managers and team at UCLB who have come together and made this happen at a pace that would be considered unimaginable under normal circumstances."

"This week we have seen the UCL-Ventura help dozens of patients with Covid-19 breathe more easily," added UCLH critical care consultant Professor Mervyn Singer (UCL Medicine). "These devices can help to save lives by ensuring that ventilators, a precious resource, are used only for the most severely ill. We and others are finding that a significant proportion of patients treated with CPAP can avoid mechanical ventilation."

"In creating these devices, speed was of the utmost importance," said Professor Tim Baker (UCL Mechanical Engineering). "We are thankful that the designs are now available for manufacturers around the world at a critical time for many countries preparing for a pandemic."

"These life-saving devices will provide vital support to the NHS in coming weeks," added Professor David Lomas (UCL Vice Provost Health), "helping to keep patients off ventilators and reducing demand on intensive care beds and staff. We believe they can also make a real difference around the world in supporting healthcare systems preparing for Covid-19."

"Since the project was announced, we have received an incredible number of enquiries about the CPAP device from around the world," said Andy Cowell, Managing Director of Mercedes-AMG High Performance Powertrains. "Making the design and manufacturing specifications openly available will allow companies around the world to produce these devices at speed and at scale to support the global response to Covid-19."

CPAP machines are routinely used by the NHS to support patients in hospital or at home with breathing difficulties. They work by pushing an air-oxygen mix into the mouth and nose at a continuous pressure, keeping airways open and increasing the amount of oxygen entering the blood stream. Invasive ventilators deliver breaths directly into the lungs, but require heavy sedation and connection to a tube placed into the patient's trachea (windpipe).

The breathing aid has been used extensively in hospitals in Italy and China to help Covid-19 patients with serious respiratory problems to breathe more easily, when oxygen via a face mask alone is insufficient.

The collaboration has been supported by the National Institute for Health Research UCLH Biomedical Research Centre.

All the details required to make the device are also now available for manufacturers to download at no cost at covid19research.uclb.com/product/ucl-cpap, a research licensing website developed by UCL Business to disseminate technologies that may help the fight against Covid-19. The licensed package will include not only the designs, but will also specify materials, tools and kit used in the rapid prototyping process, as well as the fabrication time for each part.

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by elsiebc, 08/04/2020 3:20

"@alvarezh3 I cited the Patriots as one team in a sport just as Mercedes is just one team in our sport.

And I couldn't agree with you more on your second point. They haven't a clue how many of their toys would cease to exist nor how their quality of life would diminish if they indeed had their way. They always write in their own exceptions. I have a tree hugging motorhead friend that always guts his catalytic converters. He's very quick to tell everybody else what they should do to save the world though."

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2. Posted by alvarezh3, 07/04/2020 15:45

"You are right elsiebc, in a sense is my bad. Nevertheless, I didn't mentioned them.

Do you happen to know if any of the ones I mentioned have done anything to ease the suffering? If so, please let me know and I will apologize. :-)

It just ticks me that a famous tree colored institution is always attacking anything that uses petroleum fuel as if they never use it themselves to move around the planet. Furthermore, they never say anything about all the energy used to water all the football, baseball, golf fields and run the huge A/Cs on the basketball arenas. This taking into account that according to wikipedia in 2016, 80% of world energy was produced with fossil fuels, 10% biofuels, 5% nuclear and only 5% renewables."

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3. Posted by Daydah, 07/04/2020 15:21

"Don't use this to score points.
I would like to congratulate everyone concerned and express my admiration for their achievements. They have demonstrated by their actions what can be done by expertise and determination.
Thanks to you all."

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4. Posted by elsiebc, 07/04/2020 15:03

"@alvarezh3 Did you miss the New England Patriots story then?"

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5. Posted by alvarezh3, 07/04/2020 13:49

"Would like to see what Real Madrid or Juventus, the New York Yankees or the Atlanta Braves, the Los Angeles Lakers or the Boston Celtics have done to help save the human race from the Covid-19 epidemic.

No environmental activist organization should bash auto racing, here's proof our sport CAN help make the world a better place!"

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