How Engineers are Contributing to the Fight Against the Outbreak
The coronavirus pandemic has shut the world down like nothing we've ever seen before. With the medical community completely shifting their focus and effort on fighting back against this worldwide pandemic, it's left many without work or anything productive to do.
Around the world, there are a plethora of engineers, physicists, scientists, and otherwise just normal people making superhuman efforts at fighting back against COVID-19. There are thousands of collaborative engineering efforts against COVID-19 taking place each and every day. From 3D printed masks to mechanical ventilators, the STEAM community is putting up a solid fight back against the coronavirus.
To aid in giving these projects and people visibility as well as highlighting how engineering is being used to combat the coronavirus, we created an engineering coronavirus site here. You'll find a graphical interface to browse through submitted projects and news stories and get a live look at how the virus is spreading. It's an engineering-centric COVID-19 hub.
Let's take a look at a few of the top engineering projects that have been sent in.
3D printed solutions for coronavirus
With 3D printing practically in the mainstream, it's been a primary tool for engineering to fight against the coronavirus. One notable project is that of the NanoHack Mask. While there have been a number of 3D printed masks, this mask design offers up versatility in just what you use for the air filtering portion.
Designed specifically for use with a polypropylene filter material to fit in the bottom, it can provide filtration for up to 96.4% of microorganisms the size of one micron and 89.5% of microorganisms of .02 microns.
Notably though, due to the way that the interface of the mask was designed, it allows for you to replace the filter material with any other found material if you don't have access to the specific filter required.
The team behind the mask references research indicates that if you don't have a polypropylene filter, you might be able to use a modified vacuum cleaner bag, tea towel, or cotton mix as close alternatives. While they won't be as good as the specially designed filter, the design of the mask allows these other materials to be easily inserted and used.
Browse around our engineering coronavirus response page to find other 3D printed projects submitted from around the world.
Robotic solutions for COVID-19
While there have been a plethora of companies and individuals that have hacked robots to create ventilators for seriously ill patients, we're going to focus on another robotic innovation helping patients' well-being: Robot doctors.
Researchers at Chulalongkorn University have rolled out three new telemedicine robots that can aid the doctor-patient relationship while sparing the regular human interaction. The robots can easily be used by hospital staff to communicate with COVID-19 patients remotely.
Specifically, the robots created by the university are going to be used at the Bamrasnaradura Infectious Diseases Institute.
The robots were initially designed by the university team to help care for patients that were recovering from strokes, but they are now being repurposed to supply world-class leading medical care during a time when intense quarantine and isolation is needed.
These robots not only maintain a strict barrier between doctor and patient, but they also help one doctor quickly and easily talk with multiple patients. Seeing multiple patients after one another in hospitals often requires stripping and reapplying medical garb, whereas telemedicine robots can easily avoid that.
The robots are capable of assessing the patients' conditions as well as helping the medical staff to easily track the patients' symptoms. Read more about the project in the press release from the university here.
You can also take a look at a variety of other robotics solutions for the coronavirus submitted on our engineering COVID-19 page here.
Coronavirus inspired innovations in sanitation
Sanitation has become of a big concern in the overcrowded medical systems where coronavirus outbreaks are peaking. In many places, there is a serious deficit in medical supplies that is forcing doctors and nurses to reuse their surgical masks.
This presents a need for a device that can quickly and easily disinfect surgical masks with a 100% success rate. That is exactly what Prescientx, a company located in Ontario, Canada, has tried to create.
They have engineered a device that can disinfect N95 masks utilizing ultraviolet, or UV light. The device is situated overtop of the masks and a UV-C light is shone on the mask at different angles for differing amounts of time. That said, it doesn't take very long to disinfect just one mask. In fact, the device, called the Terminator CoV, can disinfect up to 500 masks per hour. This can be life-changing for medical staff across the world as they battle the need for safe and clean protective gear.
The machine isn't just specific to one kind of N95 mask, either. Thanks to the way that it is built, it works practically universally with a variety of mask types and sizes. The masks are driven through a reflective aluminum tunnel for disinfection. While in this tunnel the UV-C light is shone, being sure to hit the masks at all angles, as UV light rays cannot pass through the N95 grade mask material.
The speed of the conveyor on which the masks are taken through the disinfected tunnel and the height of that tunnel can be adjusted with ease, making the device practically universal. Take a look at a small demo of the device in the video below.
How you can get involved
It doesn't take much to start getting involved in the engineering fight against the novel coronavirus. If you have a project that you've worked on or know of a project someone else worked on, submit it to our COVID-19 engineering site so the rest of the world can learn about all of the advancements being made.
At the end of the day, we're all in this fight together as we engineer against the coronavirus. Sharing ideas and collaborating is the first step. Check out our map that showcases the most notable engineering contributions to fighting the COVID-19, as well as the latest and most accurate statistics.