Case Studies

Due to a shortage of ventilators, groups have begun to modify available breathing machines, such as continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines to treat Covid-19 patients. CPAP machines, used to treat sleep apnea, are relatively plentiful. Their conversion provides real-world examples of how individuals, private groups, hospital administrators, public health officials are pitching in to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

PPE shortage has led to additional innovation including the use of vaporized hydrogen peroxide to sterilize N95 masks and other PPEs.

convert a CPAP machine to a ventilator


Re-purpose a CPAP Machine into a Functional Emergency Ventilator

Auburn University engineering professor and student describe the re-purposed a standard CPAP machine.

A team of Auburn University engineering professors, students and alumni have successfully re-purposed a standard CPAP machine into a functional emergency ventilator for health care providers potentially coping with ventilator shortages during the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) crisis.

The team’s research goal was to develop a robust and reliable option for an emergency ventilator that could be assembled using readily available commercial off-the-shelf components combined with a home CPAP machine.

Currently on its third iteration after more than one week of bench tests, the Auburn RE-INVENT Project was launched not just to develop a low-cost solution, but rather to focus primarily on developing a device that checked every box for reliably ventilating a patient for an extended period during this public health emergency. To this end, the team worked closely with Dr. Glenn Woods, a local anesthesiologist with first-hand experience utilizing ventilators for medical care.

Built with approximately $700 worth of components, the RE-INVENT is an accessory designed to pair with, and modify, a common household CPAP machine.

The prototype was developed in just two days (March 20-22) by Tom Burch and Michael Zabala, faculty in the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering's Department of Mechanical Engineering, and Hayden Burch, a sophomore in mechanical engineering. Between March 22 and March 30, 2020, additional engineering faculty and alumni joined the team to refine the mechanical design, control system, user interface, and alarm.