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Developing low-cost portable ventilators and training healthcare workers to battle COVID-19
15 April 2020

Last week the department of Alumni Relations & Fundraising from the University of Groningen arranged a brainstorm with alumni from Biomedical Engineering, Medicine, Artificial Intelligence and other partners to discuss and share knowledge about the development of low-cost portable ventilators and the associated online training to assemble them. Around 45 people from around the world participated sharing their expertise and providing inputs to Professor Aravind Purushothaman Vellayani.

Mr. Vellayani is Professor and chair of the Energy Conversion group at the Faculty of Science and Engineering, University of Groningen (UG). He is the linking pin of a COVID-19 (coronavirus) initiative aiming to develop low-cost portable ventilators and the associated online training to assemble them. The initiative involves in addition to the UG, the TU Delft, research & development partners in the most Southern part of India, Kerala State, and UG alumni from around the world.

The research team in India has built two prototypes that are currently being tested for production that should cost less than 100 euro per unit. Professor Vellayani has proposed the possible use of an online platform to train health care workers who have to operate ventilators and other related technologies used to assist COVID-19 patients.

The proposed online training platform is adapted from a readily available KnowHy online platform that is used by hundreds of professionals to get training and tutoring on hydrogen technology. Together, with medical experts Professor Vellayani wants to share this platform to find a suitable solution to train health care workers with this new technology in a relatively short time in order to cope with the rapid rise of IC admitted COVID-19 patients in need of breathing support, especially in developing countries.

Experts discussed different prototypes and how they could be made available and accessible through open source. Another important point of discussion was the dealing with necessary requirements for testing, quality assurance, and obtaining certification in different countries to use these low-cost portable ventilators safely.  

The brainstorm was just the beginning and further communication will now continue online. We hope several alumni of the UG will be willing to join the team to develop this further.

If you want to know more about this initiative please get in contact with Patricia Poppendick: Project manager International Alumni Relations & Fundraising, e-mail:

Last modified:15 April 2020 1.59 p.m.
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