Medical Ventilation Technology & the Brushless DC Motor

By Izzie • Education, Health, Technology • 28 Jan 2013

Once a device you could only use inside a hospital, the medical ventilator is now easier and more convenient for out-patients than ever.  This change is thanks in part to modern innovations in the brushless DC motor. The following is a look at how brushless DC motors have helped revolutionize medical ventilation technology.

Electric Motors and Medical Ventilation Technology:  A Brief History

Shortly after the invention of the homopolar electrical motor–a type of brushless DC motor–in 1821, the negative pressure ventilator, or iron lung, was created 1832. Frank Julian Sprague invented the first practical, commercially used DC motor more than 30 years later in 1886. This motor was non-sparking and could maintain variable speeds.

Hubwheel Motor, Exploded View

Positive airway mechanical ventilators weren’t widely used until World War II, when pilots needed assistance breathing at higher altitudes. In 1949, John Haven Emerson developed a mechanical ventilator for the anesthesia department at Harvard University. Soon, hospitals began to use the ventilators in intensive care units for the treatment of polio.

In 1955, the “Bird Universal Medical Respirator,” or Bird Mark 7 created by Forrest Bird revolutionized medical ventilation technology. Bird’s ventilator didn’t need an electrical power source to operate because it was a pneumatic device.

The year 1971 saw the first introduction of the SERVO series of ventilators. The SERVO 900 used a SERVO feedback system with a brushless DC motor that helped make ventilators smaller, more efficient and quieter. The safety innovations that the brushless DC motor offered such as overload protection, reversed polarity protection, and speed regulation, over other types of electric motors led to the introduction of the SERVO 300 in 1991, which allowed medical providers to treat all their patients with a single type of ventilator. This applied to every patient from the neonatal ward through advanced age adults.  The brushless DC motor in such units allowed for rapid flow-triggering responses.

Modern Ventilation Systems

The brushless DC motors in today’s ventilating systems allow for the continual delivery of air at full pressure and speed. They also offer the best thermal management, which enhances the reliability of the machines. The small size and dependability of the brushless DC motor makes it the go-to choice for compact battery-operated systems, ambulatory applications, and neonatal ventilation needs.

In addition to enhancing the lung function of Wheel motorthose with pulmonary complications, such as patients recovering from lung surgery, medical ventilators help improve patient comfort and health from home. For example, the CPAP machine used to treat sleep apnea uses a brushless DC motor to prevent the disruption of airflow as a patient sleeps.

As motor designs improve, medical ventilation technology will advance. These breakthroughs will continue to enhance patient treatment and care with the help of the brushless DC motor.

This article was written and provided to Harvest MD courtesy of Michael Bloom. Mr. Bloom is the President of Sinotech in Portland, Oregon. Sinotech offers a wide range of high quality electric AC, DC, and brushless DC motors as well as custom electric motors built to your design requirements. Sinotech provides custom engineered mechanical products, metal and plastic components and magnets to a variety of industries and has over 20 years of experience in the industry with engineers personally supervising all tooling and production to ensure quality control. To learn more about guest posting for us, please contact the Harvest MD Website Admin.


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