The Human Powered Nebulizer

The HPN is a nebulizer compressor that supplies compressed air at a specific pressure and flow rate to a standard jet nebulizer mouthpiece.  The airflow characteristics of the HPN match those of commercially available nebulizers.

The HPN provides airflow through a piston-based pneumatic system.  Through simple gearing, human power is mechanically leveraged to compress the piston with sufficient force, at the necessary speed, to deliver the required airflow.  The HPN is superior to many other mechanical nebulizers in that it uses a flow regulator.  This ensures that air flows at the right rate or not at all.  The health care provider cranks the HPN until he or she hears the audible hiss of the nebulizer working.

The initial design used commonly available bicycle components.  During interviews with stakeholders in El Salvador, health workers expressed the desire for a hand-powered version of the HPN. Several participants suggested that a hand-powered version would be more popular in rural areas due to the ubiquity of the hand-powered corn mill, the molino.

A fully functional molino prototype was completed in May of 2011 and continued modifications were made during early 2012, resulting in the compact, portable device shown below.


2013 HPN ‘Molino’ prototype

The hand-cranked HPN is now being prepared for scale-up production.  The HPN team is exploring the feasibility of establishing an HPN assembly facility in El Salvador.