CUT Innovations assist with Covid-19 medical needs

Dineo Mohapi Attela, currently engaged in writing her Master’s in Health Science is part of the Faculty of Health and Environmental Sciences team who is producing sanitisers to assist government. CUT’s focus on applied research has made such contributions possible. Her research topic is “Prevalence and succession of microbial hazards associated with Brassica Oleracea and Spinacia Oleracea in the farms and retails in the free state”.

As the world fights an immense battle against the Covid-19 pandemic, the Central University of Technology, in the Free State (CUT) is lending a helping hand through its vast and innovative technological expertise from its various departments being involved with government in different processes related to challenges associated with Covid-19. Furthermore, a Covid-19 Research and Innovation Grant of R1 million has been made available by CUT to support these entities in their endeavours.

The media statement further explains that two major problems resulting from the outbreak have been identified, namely the lack of appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) for hospital staff in the “hot zones”, and the need for non-invasive ventilation helmets/masks that provide patients with positive pressure and reduce the spread of the virus in the hospital.

The engineers are contributing medical devices – one of CUT’s specialisation fields. From left: Mr Allan Kinnear, Project Engineer: Medical Devices at Product Development Technology Station (PDTS) demonstrating a prototype of the non-invasive ventilation helmets/masks on Mr Sizwe Ntimane, Junior Project Engineer. The applied research is intended to provide patients with positive pressure and reduce the spread of the coronavirus hospitals.

CUT is assisting by 3-D printing masks for non-invasive ventilation for use by Covid-19 patients, while other CUT departments are also assisting in manufacturing much-needed hospital equipment, such as oxygen connectors and splitters, to increase the capacity of the hospitals.

The statement from CUT explains that some hospitals have requested assistance with possible spare parts they may need, and several old ventilators have been sourced from Universitas and Grootte Schuur hospitals, which will be used to reverse-engineer, and attempt to develop and manufacture ventilators to support hospitals nationally in this severe shortage of ventilators.

CUT is also currently participating in a number of active research discussion groups, which connect virtually, or any new product related to Covid-19, for both design and possible manufacturing thereof within the group.

The Centre for Applied Food Security and Biotechnology (CAFSaB), ACS Promotions and Pro Ocre are also contributing by collaborating in the production of sanitisers for the Free State Department of Education. The team consists of experts within the field of Environmental Health, together with partners from business.

According to Vice-Chancellor and Principal from CUT, Prof. Henk de Jager, their rapid research and innovative response to assist government with the Covid-19 pandemic, is proof of the commitment to work together in solidarity and unity to restrain the spread of COVID-19 (the coronavirus) as well as to reduce the risk related to the community transmission phase.