Fishermans Bend engineering company’s mission to save one million lives

By Sean Car

Fishermans Bend engineering company Sentient Bionics has developed a portable oxygen machine which can be replicated anywhere in the world in a quest to help save one million lives.

SentOx is an oxygen machine in a briefcase. The Fishermans Bend-based engineering group, which usually specialises in robotic protheses, put its projects on hold at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in March last year to focus its energy on the life-saving initiative.

Designed to World Health Organisation specifications, SentOx machines use a common method of oxygen concentration known as “pressure swing absorption”, which involves pressuring the mineral zeolite to separate nitrogen from the air. From the oxygen collected, ambient air is pumped in and then pumped out as oxygen at a high concentration.

While the method has been used for many years, one of the project’s lead engineers Aaron Duivenboorden said SentOx was innovative for the materials and components with which it was made.

With an adaptable design, the company is looking to raise awareness and connect with overseas medical manufacturers in an effort to send 7000 machines to developing countries in the next 18 months.

But to do that, they’re looking to not only raise awareness, but also money through a GoFundMe campaign, with every tax-deductible donation collected helping it edge closer to its target.

“What we’re innovating isn’t necessarily the process, it’s what we’re making the product out of – we’re focusing on making the product more accessible and using materials and components which can be easily accessible for low- to middle-income countries,” Mr Duivenboorden said.

“Part of our strategy is about technology transfer so we’re looking to build the first couple of units in Melbourne but the big picture will be for them to be built locally in low- to middle-income countries.”

“We want to provide them with a design which they can build that will be suited to the environments that they work in and have their unique needs met a bit better in comparison to portable oxygen concentrators at the moment, which are much more suited to a more developed economy.”

“They’re not currently really built for chucking into the back of a car and going into a regional area and operating in a high humidity environment. It’s quite a strict set of requirements.”

“We’re working with a few international partners who are medical device manufacturers overseas and we’re looking to also find new partners as part of our push at the moment for promotion. We want to grow awareness about our product so we can connect with more manufacturers and help us build more units.”

“We might make the first few hundred in Melbourne but then we’re looking to have help from our manufacturing partners overseas to deliver and build the rest which is part of the goal to save one million lives.”

The company has so far manufactured around 15 units, some of which have been sent to South Africa and Indonesia for engineering trials. Sentient is registered charity with full DGR status, meaning every donation is tax-deductible •

To donate visit: sentientoxygen.net

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