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‘Cool PPE Kit’: Mumbai Engineering Student Designs Ventilation Kit For COVID Warriors

Nihaal, a second-year student of KJ Somaiya College of Engineering, Mumbai, after a year of research work with his team, improving prototypes finally created Cov-Tech,  a compact ventilation system for PPE kits.

For more than a year, we have seen and read about stories of frontline warriors, narrating their ordeals of spending hours, drenched in sweat inside a PPE kit, and top of that doing their job to the best of their capabilities – treating COVID-19 patients.

When Nihaal Singh Adarsh approached his mother, a doctor herself, for an idea for a design challenge by RIIDL (Research Innovation Incubation Design Laboratories) of Somaiya College,  Vidyavihar inviting applications for solutions to any problem in the current COVID19 crisis, she highlighted the challenges faced by doctors.

The words of his mother in April 2020 about diseases like fungal infections, and other sweat and skin diseases because of the PPE kits, set the ball rolling for him to begin his research to create a one-of-a-kind ventilated PPE kit.

Nihaal, a second-year student of KJ Somaiya College of Engineering, Mumbai, after a year of research work with his team, improving prototypes finally created Cov-Tech,  a compact ventilation system for PPE kits.

Speaking to HW News English on the very simple functioning of this ‘cool PPE kit’, he said “The COVTECH VENTILATION is like a simple belt, fastened around your waist, and then a PPE suit is worn over it. It works as a plug-and-play device for any kind of PPE suit.”

The Cov-Tech belt will keep the PPE kit cool.

The student innovator added “The device is equipped with appropriate electronic components which enable it to suck in air from the surrounding outside and pump it inside the suit. Keeping user safety in mind, the device is cleverly designed to filter the air before pumping it inside. Consequently, the hot & humid air inside the suit is forcefully pushed out. Due to this, a continuous flow of fresh, filtered, and ambient air is maintained inside the PPE suit.”

The Journey From Scratch To Final Product

After his conversation with his mother, under the guidance of Dr. Ulhas Kharul of National Chemical Laboratory, Pune, Nihaal was able to develop the first model in 20 days. Dr. Ulhas runs a start-up that does research on a membrane to filter air, with the aim of preventing the spread of COVID-19. From here, Nihaal got the idea about what type of filter he should use, in order to achieve an optimum balance between filtration efficiency and airflow quality, a detailed report by the Press Information Bureau said.

It helped that he got support from Somaiya Vidyavihar University’s RIIDL (Research Innovation Incubation Design Laboratory), supported by the National Science & Technology Entrepreneurship Development Board (NSTEDB), under the Department of Science & Technology, Government of India.

Student innovator Nihaal

After more than 6 months of hard work, the initial prototype emerged. It was neck-mounted, sucking in air through U-shaped air inlets, and had pillow-like structures which could be worn around the neck.

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According to PIB, the prototype went through rigorous testing. “We wanted this prototype to be tested by some unbiased doctors and hence approached Dr. Vinayak Mane. He pointed out that wearing it around the neck will be a big discomfort for doctors and health care workers, due to the constant sound and vibration the device emitted. So, we discarded the prototype and started working on further designs.”

He also told PIB that they kept trying out new designs, with the aim of creating a prototype that does not obstruct the work of Health Care Workers in any way.

This aspiration for perfection led to the development of around 20 developmental prototypes and 11 ergonomic prototypes till the final product emerged.  For this, he got help from Gaurang Shetty, Chief Innovation Catalyst at RIIDL and CEO of Dassault Systems, Pune. The state-of-the-art prototyping facility at Dassault Systems helped Nihaal develop prototypes effectively and at ease.

Talking about his other team members, Nihal credits his success to Rutwik Marathe, his senior in college and the chief design engineer of the project and Sayli Bhavsar, a 2nd-year student pursuing IT engineering and the person behind the website of Watt Tech Innovations, the banner under which this kit is being sold

Nihaal with his mother.

And of course, he thanked his parents for the solid emotional and financial support they provided to him.

“They have been nothing but supportive throughout the entire process. They let me travel all the way to Mumbai (from Pune) in the middle of a pandemic with special permissions which was a brave gesture. Be it financial or emotional, my parents have always been there pushing me to do better.” he said.

On the availability of Cov-Tech, Nihaal tells us that it’s already introduced in the market, and the process of distribution to other states is currently under process. Meanwhile, the product can be purchased here.

“We have received orders from hospitals who would be ordering in bulk for their doctors. Many NGOs are also looking for donating the device to the doctors. We are currently working round the clock for manufacturing the device at a large scale, in order to fulfill the demands all over India” the student innovator signs off.





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