Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) techniques used to design the Renault R.S.20 F1 car have contributed to the development of an innovate new aerosol shield which protects hospital clinicians treating COVID-19 patients.
Renault DP World F1 Team became part of a collaboration that also involved former FIA medic Dr Cristiana Pace’s Enovation Consultancy Ltd (part of the Silverstone Technology Cluster (STC) network) and motorsport engineering company and STC member One Group Engineering.
The Renault team’s Head of CFD, Paul Cusdin, replicated and simulated the behaviour of fluid particles (aerosols) released when coughing, greatly increasing the protection offered to medics over PPE. The use of sophisticated modelling techniques also reduced the timeframe for production by over half.
The data gathered contributed significantly to the collaboration’s project which resulted in the new shield – known as the ‘Oxford Box’ – going into production for use in the Oxford University NHS Trust’s five hospitals.
Paul explained: “We modelled the speed, direction and airflow as we would in F1 and were thus able to advise the best placement, size and shape of the box to take its protection level to near 100% for the treating medic.
“The models were complex to establish but, by applying the principles we would do in developing a car, we were able to improve its protection and condense development from months to weeks.
“F1 is once again proving its capacity to apply its thinking, technology and processes in speeding up the help we can give to those in genuine need. I hope this will be yet another tool in the ongoing fight against COVID-19.”
Cristiana Pace commented: “Most members of the STC network, based at Silverstone Park, reconverted their businesses to help with challenges generated by COVID-19.
“The problem-solving skills and agility of our industry, combined with the clinical knowledge and expertise of Oxford University Hospital Trust, resulted in a cost-effective, state of the art solution, able to keep safe clinicians during their invaluable day to day work.
“As well as looking at the ergonomics and conceptual design, I concentrated on moving production away from PETG (hard plastic) to more sustainable plastic, to reduce plastic pollution.
“One Group Engineering and Renault DP World F1 Team were both instrumental to achieve this result in such a short frame of time.
“We engaged with Renault DP World F1 Team for their expertise in computational fluid dynamics. CFD is widely used in motorsport, and it could now be a real breakthrough in terms of design technology for the medical sector.”
One Group founder Ron Hartvelt said: “Most of our work has previously been automotive and motorsport, so it’s been fantastic engaging with OUH and OxSTaR to develop the OXBox medical device.
“In terms of understanding the challenges, design innovation and prototype delivery I believe this project demonstrates just how powerful the motorsport approach can be. It’s been an exciting and rewarding project and medical is certainly a sector that we would like to continue to apply our skills to.”
Bianca Tingle, a Consultant Anaesthetist at OUH, enthused: “We believe the Oxford Box is the best aerosol shield available. We predict it will be used beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.”