STFC team helps national consortium deliver 13,437 ventilators
07 Jul 2020





​​​​STFC's team tested and calibrated ventilators produced at Penlon's Abingdon facility as part of the Ventilator Challenge UK project.

Credit: STFC/Chris Pulker​

Technicians, engineers and scientists from STFC's Rutherford Appleton Laboratory have helped deliver 13,437 ventilators as part of Ventilator Challenge UK, more than doubling the stock available to the NHS.

The STFC team, based in Harwell, Oxfordshire, led the training of hundreds of others to test the new ventilators produced by Penlon at its nearby facility in Abingdon.

Initially STFC staff, with a colleague from Diamond Light Source, helped to develop a training manual for testing and calibrating Penlon's ventilator. Then the STFC team of more than 70 people provided support in testing and logistics during the project, contributing to the safe production and delivery of Penlon ventilators to the NHS.

The testing team monitored pressure and air flow through the ventilator while it inflated and deflated a set of steel "lungs".

Mark Anderson, Production Group Leader at RAL Space said: “Working on the Ventilator Challenge has been a very rewarding task. To be invited to be part of a team of people to initially develop and run training sessions on a brand new ventilator that was going to be used to save lives, was a daunting task, but we rose to the challenge and had more than 30 people trained in the first week.

“I continued with the training and also volunteered to help with the logistics, working alongside the F1 teams was great fun and made the hours fly by. For me personally it goes to show that with a common goal the UK can pull its business skills together to overcome a challenge. To mass produce and test thousands of ventilators in weeks is totally unbelievable. My team and many other STFC technicians have been able to do their bit fighting this outbreak and saving people's lives."

Dr Anna Orlowska, Director of Technology for STFC, said:
"It has been great to see our brilliant staff sharing the skills and expertise gained from their work at our world-leading science facilities and instruments and play their part in the Ventilator Challenge. Few organisations in the country have such versatile, effective and enthusiastic technical people who could contribute as much as they have in such a short time frame. The work done by the consortium is a major achievement and STFC has shown how our expertise and training are of great value. The staff involved have been superb ambassadors for STFC and can be very proud of what they have achieved."

The consortium of UK aerospace, motorsport, automotive and medical businesses has delivered critical Penlon ESO 2 and Smiths paraPACTM plus ventilators to the NHS since 19 March.

VentilatorChallengeUK made its last shipment of finished ventilators on Sunday 5 July after which Consortium businesses will return to regular production.​