Air Operated Artificial Lung

K. Strobl, S. Gainey, A. Kumar, A. Kumar
CVD Equipment Corporation,
United States

Keywords: ECMO, Artifical Lung, Fluid Reactor, CNT Device


Extra Corporeal Membrane Oxygenators (ECMOs) are used to provide saturated oxygenated blood to an incapacitated human body during a surgical or emergency procedure. We have developed a novel, patent pending, higher efficiency blood oxidation/Carbon Dioxide removal system that is targeted to (1) improve existing ECMO products utilized in heart-lung machines, and (2) enable the manufacture of ECMO devices that operate on air instead of pure oxygen for special logistically challenged situations. At their core, our blood-gas exchange devices utilize a family of novel reactor core elements (RCEs) that inherently have a 5-15X higher active liquid-gas exchange surface area as compared to traditional blood-gas exchange devices that utilize porous hollow fiber membranes (HFMs). A combination of experimental data and modeling suggests that when our RCEs are efficiently combined in a sealed blood oxygenator housing it has up to 1/10 of the priming volume and 1/10 of the pressure drop of traditional HFM-based ECMOs. In addition, the linear blood flow path through our RCEs may result in lower hemolysis (blood cell damage), reduce surgical follow-on complications and enable longer time usage as compared with HFM-based ECMOs. Each of our RCEs used for blood oxygenation contains straight fluid channels surrounded by an open porous cellular network material having a bi-continuous phase structure of vertically aligned carbon nanotubes (c-VACNTâ„¢) material. These RCEs are manufactured through a combination of photolithography, chemical vapor deposition (CVD), separation and additional follow-on processing steps. Traditionally, HFM-based ECMOs utilize pure oxygen as sweep gas which requires medical grade oxygen tanks that have a maximum capacity of 4000L. At the standard sweep rate of 12 Liters/minute such a tank lasts only up to 5 hours and is bulky and heavy, thus allowing ECMO technology to only be used in specially facilitated limited locations and creating additional logistical concerns for the use of ECMO technology in emergency vehicles and surgical units in the battlefield. Therefore, it is highly desirable to develop a safe blood oxygenation technology that can operate on air instead of oxygen tanks. We will demonstrate here that with the latest innovation in our RCE and ECMO manufacturing technology it should be possible to build air operated ECMO devices by the inherent higher efficiency of our novel RCEs. We expect this will open up the opportunity for ECMO support to more logistically challenged situations.