Cambridge-based Camcon Medical, which specialises in high-speed, low energy liquid and gas flow control, has identified oxygen therapy as the first medical application for its Binary Actuation Technology (BAT).
Oxygen therapy is used to treat patients with a range of conditions, including severe lung disease, carbon monoxide toxicity and cystic fibrosis. Accurate oxygen dosing is a significant challenge, as both under- or over-dosing can prove fatal.
Charles Potter, director of Camcon Medical, said: “According to the British Thoracic Society there are thousands of patients that receive too much oxygen every day, because of the way that the gas is delivered, and some patients can have severe medical problems if they are given too much oxygen.”
It is estimated that between 2,000-4,000 people die in the UK alone each year from incorrect oxygen supply.
The technology, which is silent, is based on capturing and recycling the kinetic energy of a moving armature, which is used to open and close the valve.
Originally invented by Wladyslaw Wygnanski in 1998, the technology allows a valve to switch between its open and closed state more quickly than other mechanisms, while consuming only a tiny amount of energy.
“Because we use energy recycling it means that when it is in position A we already have energy stored inside the actuator, so we just need a trigger and then we have a catapult effect, which allows us to go to position B,” said Wygnanski. “Then, before landing at position B, the kinetic energy is reclaimed and stored.”
Reclaiming the kinetic energy also results in a soft close, meaning wear and tear on the valve is reduced, he added.
Camcon Medical is also investigating other applications for the technology within healthcare, including implantable devices, mechanical aids and accurate laboratory dispensing equipment for drug dosing and delivery.