Raissa Malu

Respirator Made in DRC, the rest of the story

A prototype was presented to physicians.

Today, March 4, 2021, is World Engineer's Day under the theme "Engineering for a Healthy Planet - Presentation of the UNESCO Report on Engineering". I have been looking forward to this day.

Why? Because it is the date, we have chosen to present you the prototype 1.0 of our respirator Made in DRC. Drum roll...

Post to read again

Remember! On May 2, 2020, I published the article "The race for Made in DRC ventilators" (read, or read again) which overviewed the history of mechanical ventilation and detailed the development phases of an emergency ventilator.

I then presented the first version of our prototype, our first attempts to master "the beast". Since then, we have come a long way.

Two complementary teams

At the beginning, two prototypes were developed in parallel, one by Thérèse Kirongozi's team for Women's Technologies and the other by mine, Investing In People ASBL. We adopted this scheme thinking that it would increase the chances of achieving a working prototype.

But quickly, the strengths and weaknesses of both teams became apparent. Fortunately, they are not the same. The strengths of my team are the weaknesses of Therese's team and vice versa. We had to change our method to make them work together on the same prototype.

Experts

For my team, I had already presented him, it is the genius Ferawi Mabla who worked days and nights to master the intelligent part of the respirator. In Therese's team, we find two other gems. Josaphat Wembo Okitolenga is an innovator with several certified devices to his credit.

He has developed an electrolyzer with 40 chemistry and physics experiments to perform, a godsend for secondary schools in the DRC that are sorely lacking in laboratory space. This device is marketed by Women's Technologies.

Passionate about technology

The other gem is Jonathan Mabisanga Donda, an aviation student at the Institut Supérieur des Techniques Appliquées (ISTA). For his passion for technology, Jonathan learned computer programming and is also studying mechatronics and artificial intelligence.

He is the coordinator of the ISTA innovation laboratory under the supervision of Prof. Simon Kidiamboko. In Therese's team, we also find designers who design, cut, and assemble the structure with the engineers. Women's Technologies are professionals!

Availability of equipment

We also have Sharon-Rose Kapinga, a physics student at the University of Kinshasa (UNIKIN), who assists the engineers in writing the technical documentation that must accompany the ventilator. Therese and I enjoy working with these young engineers and scientists. They are friendly, resourceful, passionate, and patient.

It is true that the development of our prototype takes more time compared to other international teams that took on the same challenge in 2020. The problem lies mainly in the availability of (quality) material.

Recovery and manual cutting

We must buy from abroad. Just imagine the hassle when the 3 engines that you had so painstakingly ordered in China burn out during the tests!

We do not have access to a 3D printer or a laser cutter either. We must do some recovery. We must cut the structure by hand!

Prototype Made in DRC

Moreover, we must keep working for some and studying for others. This is not our main activity. During lockdown, we still had time, but no more!

Finally, after many twists and turns, here it is, the prototype of an emergency mechanical ventilator made in DRC with the basic functionalities: volume-controlled ventilation mode; alert in case of malfunction or energy failure; power supply adapted to urban and rural environments; light and portable; quick switch to manual mode (ideal for emergencies).

Vue de Face Respirateur

Physicians' needs

Can it already go to hospitals? Not yet!

We need to optimize it and we have presented it to a team of resuscitation doctors from a hospital in the capital who have made proposals. We want to deliver a version that best meets the needs expressed by our doctors.

Multiple goals

There are several goals to this project: to privilege sustainable development by using as much as possible recyclable materials; to promote local industrial manufacturing to meet the national and regional demand; and to promote the employment of young people (and students) in technical fields.

I would like to thank my friend Thérèse Kirongozi. I am a physicist, Thérèse is an engineer.

Engineers for a better world

Engineers want to make the built world better. They look for practical solutions to improve the living conditions of people. Thérèse personifies this very well. It is a pleasure and an honor for me to collaborate with this woman engineer.

Here is the video of our ventilator in operation presented by Sharon-Rose Kapinga.

 

Engineering is fun, join us! 😉

This post has first been published on LinkedIn.

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