Black Excellence: A Nigerian Man Championed The Invention Of A Low-Cost Ventilator That Doesn’t Require Electricity Supply

by Duke Magazine

With the growing concern as the COVID-19 outbreak’s curve has not been flattened, the wave is giving the health system of the nations of the world a heavy blow. Due to the overstretch the health systems have been subjected to, experts across the globe are exploring innovative ways of mitigating the huge impact of the pandemic on lives.


A Nigerian engineer, Yusuf Bilesanmi, has led a team of innovators to develop a ventilator that does not require an electricity supply. Other members of the team include Ricardo Nascimento, Dr. Yusuf Shittu, Gaurav Nanajkar, and Pawel Nycz.

This latest invention is regarded as one of the most significant breakthroughs in the fight against the pandemic. The ventilator, named ShiVent, has other unique features. It is oxygen-efficient, simple to use, and considerably cheap. Its design has been made to ensure non-specialized workers can treat COVID-19 patients at ease.

Founder Yusuf, 37, is a Ph.D. student of Architecture Building and Civil Engineering. Team member Nascimento is a Ph.D. student of Design and Creative Arts and is responsible for prototyping and user experience expertise while Shittu of the Nuffield Hospital in Leicester provides medical expertise. Nanajkar and Nycz lead the engineering, design, simulation, and testing parts of the project. The two are Ph.D. students from the Centre for Renewable Energy Systems Technology (CREST).

According to Leicestershire Live, the invention has been tested at Loughborough’s National Centre for Sports and Exercise Medicine (NCSEM) and the Leicester Royal Infirmary Hospital. Also, the ventilator has passed through a preliminary clinical functionality test at Glenfield Hospital.

The inventors plan to roll out the ventilators in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia after trials in Lagos and Pune as well as India.

“ShiVent is designed for under-resourced areas where mechanical ventilators are scarce and expensive, with unreliable electricity supply and limited specialist knowledge,” said Yusuf.

He continued: “With a global surge in Covid-19 cases, many countries’ healthcare systems cannot tackle this new challenge. Nigeria has as few as 288 mechanical ventilators serving almost 200 million people.

“The ShiVent is a simple, low-cost ventilatory alternative which does not depend on electricity and is widely replicable.”

According to Loughborough University, the “system works by connecting hospital patients to an existing oxygen source and blends air with the high-flow oxygen supply. The patient inhales oxygen to fill up the lungs and then exhales into a water column creating back-end pressure that keeps their airway open.”

“It is based on the principles of bubble continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) – a non-invasive ventilator used for newborn babies developed by Dr. Yusuf Shittu, of the Nuffield Hospital in Leicester – a co-founder of the ShiVent system,” Loughborough University added in a press statement.

At the Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation final event recently, Yusuf was voted the “One To Watch” by the audience during the event. He was one of the 12 innovators who pitched their innovations to a live audience. The Nigerian innovator also received a £5,000 ($6,000) prize.

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