In a statement, INESC TEC said that the ventilator with a self-inflating balloon, called PNEUMA, aims at the “release of conventional ventilators for more serious cases” of covid-19.

Developed to offer support to “second and third line” hospitals and patients awaiting transfer to central hospitals, this ventilator can be used “for transient invasive ventilation in patients with respiratory failure”.

“In the extreme case of an absolute lack of fans, PNEUMA is also a concrete alternative”, says the Porto research institute.

The technology, developed by a team of engineers and doctors, is based on a system of “automatic compression and decompression of a self-inflating balloon”, resembling an emergency and transport ventilator that can be used “without access to the electric power network”.

Cited in the statement, Nuno Cruz, project coordinator and researcher at INESC TEC, says that the ventilator allows “control of volume, respiratory rate and inspiration-expiration ratio”.

“It is based on an approved medical device that is part of the medical routine (self-inflating balloon) and is quickly replicable, that is, it is easier, faster and cheaper to produce solutions like this than new fans”, explains Nuno Cruz, who is also a professor at FEUP.

According to the official, the prototype of the ventilator has already been tested and its industrialization, production and assembly is now being organized "in response to the challenges posed" by the Regional Health Administration of the North (ARS-Norte).

“In addition to a technological challenge, this is a planning challenge to make available in a timely manner, and in sufficient numbers, ventilators to our health units. The development of innovative solutions always carries a high risk, but we estimate that we can place the project and a plan for the delivery of the devices in the hands of the health authorities within two weeks”, advances Nuno Cruz.

INESC TEC also says that most of the components of this ventilator are being produced using 3D printers and common printers, according to the recommendations released by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Regulatory Agency for Medicines and Health Products (MHRA ), from UK.

In addition to INESC TEC and FEUP, the project has the support of the Association of Metallurgical, Metalworking and Related Industries of Portugal (AIMMAP), of ARS Norte, of the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Porto (FMUP), of the Institute of Science and Innovation in Mechanical Engineering and Industrial Engineering (INEGI), the Centro Hospitalar Universitário de São João (CHUSJ), the Institute of Biomedical Sciences Abel Salazar (ICBAS), the Centro Hospitalar Universitário do Porto - Hospital de Santo António and the Instituto Eletrotécnico Português ( IEP).