A revolutionary improvement in personal protection equipment against COVID-19

Lead Participant: Worksafe Design Limited

Abstract

NHS, care-home and essential workers are dying, due to the lack of effective Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) that stops air-borne infection of COVID-19 occurring through the mucous membranes of the head. Our innovation is an anti-virus, air-fed hood (AVAH), that covers the head and provides virus-free air to the wearer, thereby blocking this virus-transmission pathway. Our AVAH is better than current healthcare PPE, or industrial-use Powered Air-Respiratory Protection (PARP) units, because it is more comfortable and effective, has all-round visibility, is quiet to aid communication, modular (therefore easy to clean) and some components are already in large-scale production.

The AVAH consists of a personal aspirator that comprises of a fan, which pulls air through two stages of filtration. The primary filter catches mist droplets and large dust particles. The inner high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter catches smaller particles. The fan is powered by a rechargeable battery and delivers air, via a silencer, via a flexible hose to the hood. The hood is inflated by the pressure of the air. Excess air is exhausted and filtered through the hood's permeable cuff. It also has simple controls and alarms to ensure user safety.

We have two key objectives, which are to: (i) initiate pre-production 'field' trials and market testing using a modified industrial fan/filter system in conjunction with our novel hood design, (ii) design, test and certify of our own fan/filter unit optimised specifically for healthcare use, reduced cost, better usability and improved resilience against supply chain problems. We shall proceed to mass manufacture of the AVAH, with a goal of producing thousands per week.

Our focus areas are the design, development and mass production of our AVAH, for use both here and overseas. We foresee multiple additional applications for modified versions of our innovation, including protection against hay-fever and use by other public servants, e.g. prison, police and border control officers, where staff could be exposed to infectious, respiratory diseases such as tuberculosis.

The WorkSafe Design AVAH is innovative, because its design is modular and it solves the numerous problems and stresses associated with commonly used facemasks, visors or industrial PARP units. Feedback from clinicians and care workers has been extremely positive, because they were impressed with the AVAH's virus protection capability, lightness, quietness and all-round field of vision.

-ADDITIONAL INFORMATION-

We have designed, tested and 3D-printed the pre-production AVAH (renamed the "AirHood"), now built using bespoke components designed to overcome the non-availability of off-the-shelf parts (connectors etc) that met the required strength and robustness criteria, necessary for Notified Body Certification (a legal requirement).

To solve these problems and improve the efficiency of the air-pump unit, we designed injection-moulding tools for the manufacture of the required component parts. This also effectively accelerates routes to market, if funding can be found for these additional costs. The potential for additional funding via this “Extension for Impact” call by Innovate UK, therefore, would be an ideal route to obtain these essential funds, with the WorkSafe Design Directors making up the difference.

An additional constraint to rapid progress is that the 3D-printed AirHood units cannot be used for Notified Body Certification, because they are made from a different material to that which would result from the injection-moulding process. To make the finished product using moulded-component parts and to be able to submit the AirHood product for Notified Body Certification, therefore, we first need to find additional funds to pay for the injection-moulding tools. WorkSafe Design, therefore, is requesting additional funding on this “Extension for Impact” application, to cover the cost of three injection moulding tools, the Gasket tooling, a set of prototype hoses, some additional subcontract design work on the PCB (to finalise it ready for mass production) and EMC testing. Once this financial and tooling problem is solved, we can proceed rapidly to making the moulding tools, manufacture the AirHood and begin to generate enormous economic and health benefits, by exploiting the huge (global) market for this product.

Lead Participant

Project Cost

Grant Offer

Worksafe Design Limited £74,888 £ 74,888

Publications

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