Moneycontrol PRO
you are here: HomeNewsIndia

reBreather: Prototype to reuse oxygen exhaled by patients is here, thanks to IIT-Bombay

The device named 'reBreather' will also help in minimising wastage of oxygen at a time when there is a heavy demand for it due to rising COVID-19 cases.

May 18, 2021 / 02:45 PM IST
The IIT-Bombay team has designed the prototype of a breathing device called ‘reBreather’. [Representative Image]

The IIT-Bombay team has designed the prototype of a breathing device called ‘reBreather’. [Representative Image]

A team of alumni, students and professors at the Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay (IIT-B) have come up with an innovative way to reuse the exhaled oxygen and enhance the lifetime of O2 cylinders for COVID-19 patients.

Amid the rising demand for medical oxygen due to increasing COVID-19 cases in the country, the team has designed the prototype of a breathing device called ‘reBreather’. The semi-closed circular breathing system allows coronavirus patients to breathe in unused exhaled oxygen by scrubbing out carbon dioxide and blending in fresh oxygen.

Follow our LIVE blog for the latest updates of the novel coronavirus pandemic

The device will also help in minimising wastage of oxygen at a time when there is a heavy demand for it and hospitals are facing an acute shortage.

According to the team, a healthy person breathes in five litres of air per minute, which corresponds to about 1 litre/minute of oxygen being inhaled. Of this, approximately 0.25 litre/minute of oxygen is consumed. In the case of COVID-19 patients with severe breathing problems, a person can receive oxygen through a combination of the nasal cannula and mask at a flow rate of up to 50 litres per minute. With an open-loop breathing cycle for such patients, most of the oxygen is lost back to the atmosphere.

Close

COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

View more
How does a vaccine work?

A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

How many types of vaccines are there?

There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

View more
Show

The researchers at IIT-B have used a concept of breathing devices, which is commonly used in diving, to create ‘reBreather’ to cut down on oxygen wastage.

“A rebreather is a closed (or semi-closed) loop system that helps the user to rebreathe the unused oxygen that they have just exhaled. To do this, rebreathers have a section that helps remove the CO2 in the exhaled air thereby preventing an increase in the CO2 concentration in the closed-loop system. The amount of oxygen absorbed by the user is replenished by a fresh supply of oxygen into the closed-loop,” according to the project detail issued by Tata Centre for Technology and Design.

Also read | Delhi's Khan Chacha owner Navneet Kalra arrested in oxygen concentrator black marketing case

The proposed method of recirculation of oxygen will help bring down the usage of over nine oxygen cylinders in a day for a critical patient to one or two cylinders, as per the calculation by the team.

Amid the rising demand for medical oxygen due to increasing COVID-19 cases in India, the team has designed the prototype of a breathing device called ‘reBreather’. (Image: github.com/TCTD-IIT-Bombay/reBreather) Amid the rising demand for medical oxygen due to increasing COVID-19 cases in India, the team has designed the prototype of a breathing device called ‘reBreather’. (Image: github.com/TCTD-IIT-Bombay/reBreather)

The minds behind the concept are affiliated with TCTD, the department of chemical engineering, and Nex Robotics—a start-up by alumni of the institute.

The technical details of the prototype, which has been tested informally on healthy volunteers, have been made public under Creative Commons to grant access and replicate the design.

Also read | WHO donates 100 oxygen concentrators to Rajasthan government

“Our objective in releasing this design now is to document the science behind the technique and test that it works in a practical context, and potentially help mitigate wastage of O2 at a time when there is a heavy demand for it,” the document stated.

A single unit of ‘reBreather’ cost the team around Rs 10,000. “We have sourced these with relative ease in Mumbai; you may find cheaper - and better - alternatives for these items,” it said.

Follow our full coverage on COVID-19 here.
Moneycontrol News
first published: May 18, 2021 02:45 pm

stay updated

Get Daily News on your Browser
Sections
ISO 27001 - BSI Assurance Mark