Project: Condensation-free Respiratory Humidifier for the Intensive Care Ward

Respiratory humidifiers are required to heat and moisturise air when the breathing of patients is assisted by a mechanical ventilator. However, existing humidifiers suffer from condensation in the breathing circuits. This causes several important patient safety concerns in the intensive care ward. The condensation causes high breathing resistance, lung damage and mucociliary tract malfunction. Furthermore, bacterial colonisation of the condensation is a contributing factor to Ventilator Associated Pneumonia (VAP). In hypothermic patients, the condensation can even occur inside the patient and damage the lungs. In home use, people with sleep apnea suffer from discomfort due to condensation in the mask. A condensation-free technology which tunes itself automatically to the individual's needs would reduce infection in hospitals, and promote Ambient Assisted Living in the home. _x000D__x000D_There are around 1.6 million intensive care patients in the European Union each year [Ref: estimate based on UK number x8], and the problems mentioned above have high costs, both in terms of patient outcome and financially. For example, the incidence rate of VAP is widely studied in papers and reports, and is generally thought to be around 10 – 15% with an attributable mortality of 20 – 33%. VAP leads to an increased length of stay in the ICU and an increased cost. In her talk at the Academy of Infection Management conference in Mexico 2003, Peggy McKinnon estimated the cost of treating VAP to be $20,000 - $40,000 per patient. [Ref: data sourced from Dresser et al. Chest 2001;119:1439–1448]. Applying these numbers to the EU as a whole, the total cost of VAP is estimated to be around $3.2b - $9.6b per year. The number of deaths is 32,000 – 80,000 per year. Whichever end of the estimates one uses, the costs to European society and healthcare providers are large. By removing condensation from the breathing circuit, there is evidence that these rates can be cut by around one third. [Ref Respir Care. 2003 Sep;48(9):869-79.] _x000D__x000D_Globally, healthcare providers are being pressurised to tackle infection rates by publishing league tables of performance, or by insurance companies withholding payment for the consequences. (“Never Events”). Yet current methods are based on "care bundles", in which a variety of good-practise methods are combined to limit the extent of infection. If a technological solution can make a significant reduction in infection rates, many millions of units could be sold across the world. _x000D__x000D_As a guide to the potential of this market, the current market leader employs 1300 staff, has turnover in excess of $300m and a market capitalisation of $1.2b. _x000D__x000D_Two European companies have innovative technology that can achieve this, and there is an opportunity to create sizeable revenues and jobs by bringing a new solution to market. Cambridge Design Pship is a technology development consultancy. It has around 40 high-calibre engineers and scientists who develop innovative products. They have a multi-disciplinary team (physics, mechanics, electronics, software, design) , which means that development times are much shorter than in companies with limited R&D. Thus development times can be cut from years to months. They recruit only the very best candidates, which means that their work is very creative and patents are almost guaranteed. Inheco's business is centred on creating new Peltier Cooling products for a variety of industries, most notably in life sciences. TECs are a relatively recent technology, and are becoming more widespread thanks to the availability of low-cost electronics. They have attractive benefits over traditional cooling, such as compressors, namely they are lightweight, reliable, quiet, and COtenance-free. There are several areas of Peltier system design which are critical to achieving these benefits, and Inheco's team of around 40 staff in R&D, procurement and production are the leading experts in Europe. This project is a collaboration between to two companies to produce a new humidifier to reduce infection and other patient safety issues. This market-oriented R&D programme aims to have the new technology in clinical trials in 1.5 -3 years from now. It could save thousands of lives, and billions of euros. _x000D__x000D_

Acronym ARID (Reference Number: 5989)
Duration 01/02/2011 - 30/06/2012
Project Topic We are developing the world's first condensation-free respiratory humidifier suitable for long-term use in the intensive care ward. By preventing condensation, we can reduce lung damage, infection, and equipment malfunction.
Project Results
(after finalisation)
Proof of concept for the INHECO part of the project was achieved._x000D_The project was terminated before completion. This is because changing clinical opinion had compromised the business case for the product.
Network Eurostars
Call Eurostars Cut-Off 5

Project partner

Number Name Role Country
2 INHECO Industrial Heating & Cooling GmbH Partner Germany
2 Cambridge Design Pship LLP Coordinator United Kingdom