Manufacturer signs on to mass-produce Rice ventilator

Stewart & Stevenson partners with university to make life-saving device

Rice University and Houston-based manufacturer Stewart & Stevenson LLC have signed a licensing agreement to produce an advanced version of Rice’s ApolloBVM ventilator.

The ApolloBVM ventilator is intended to be an emergency option that health care professionals can use to help patients breathe when full ventilators are not available. The programmable device is designed to operate a common bag valve mask for extended periods while patients await the availability of a standard ventilator.

Engineering design supervisor Danny Blacker of Rice’s Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen demonstrates the ApolloBVM. A Houston-based manufacturer, Stewart & Stevenson, has licensed the device. Video produced by Brandon Martin/Rice University

“This agreement combines the strengths of S&S’s engineering, high-volume manufacturing and global distribution capabilities with the outstanding work by the ventilator development team at Rice’s Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen (OEDK),” said Joe Reniers, president of Kirby Distribution and Services, of which Stewart & Stevenson is a subsidiary.

“It is our expectation that the ApolloBVM ventilator advancements that have been jointly developed will not only respond to the critical health care device needs associated with the COVID-19 crisis, but will also provide a sturdy and portable system that can be rapidly deployed to the front lines during other emergency response situations,” he said.

The company has applied for emergency use authorization of the design from the federal Food and Drug Administration.

“I am thrilled that the hard work by the OEDK team, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, has resulted in this agreement with Stewart & Stevenson,” said OEDK Director Maria Oden, also a teaching professor of bioengineering and co-director of the Rice 360˚ Institute for Global Health. “They have the ability to produce the ApolloBVM at scale, providing emergency ventilation needs during this crisis and beyond.”

ApolloBVM was designed and prototyped by engineers and students at Rice’s Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen based upon an original concept by the “Take a Breather” team of senior engineering students in 2019. Both teams were advised by Dr. Rohith Malya, an assistant professor of emergency medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, an adjunct assistant professor of bioengineering at Rice and associate of the Rice 360° Institute for Global Health.

The enhanced design has been made available as a set of open-source plans. More than 2,300 people from 105 countries have registered to download them. Three Rice-produced videos (here, here and here) about the project have logged more than half a million views.

Stewart & Stevenson, founded in 1902, is focused on manufacturing, power generation, rental solutions and aftermarket support for global oil and gas, marine, construction, transportation, government, mining, health care and agricultural markets. S&S, composed of Manufacturing Technologies, Power Products, Atlantic Detroit Diesel-Allison, Florida Detroit Diesel-Allison, S&S Colombia, Healthcare Technologies and Power Rental, serves customers worldwide from 43 U.S. and international locations.

About Mike Williams

Mike Williams is a senior media relations specialist in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.