The University of Southampton

Southampton PeRSo respirator honoured with President's Special Award

Published: 17 August 2020
"PeRSo is a triumph of ingenuity at a time of global adversity and national emergency"

A pioneering respirator hood created by researchers at the University of Southampton has been selected for a President's Special Award for Pandemic Service from the Royal Academy of Engineering.

The Personal Respirator Southampton, or PeRSo, was developed from a rough sketch to a prototype within four days by a multidisciplinary team that was co-led by Electronics and Computer Science's Professor Hywel Morgan.

PeRSo consists of a fabric hood which covers the wearer's head, integrated with a plastic visor to protect their face. A small portable unit delivers clean air through a HEPA filter to the wearer from a battery powered fan pack mounted on a belt.

If the tests are successful and the prototype obtains the necessary safety certifications, the concept will be published open-source so it would be available to other manufacturers and organisations around the world. The engineers on the team will also investigate developing simpler prototypes using only components available in developing countries.

The Royal Academy of Engineering President's Special Awards for Pandemic Service recognise exceptional engineering achievements in tackling COVID-19 throughout the UK.

Professor Mark Spearing, Vice-President (Research) at the University of Southampton, says: "PeRSo is a triumph of ingenuity at a time of global adversity and national emergency thanks to the collaborative efforts of like-minded colleagues from across the University of Southampton and key partners from industry."

The University of Southampton's PeRSo team has included expertise from Electronics and Computer Science's Dr Ric Gillams, Dr Roel Mingels and Dr Daniel Spencer.

Professor Morgan says: "I am sure the entire team will join me in expressing our gratitude to the Royal Academy of Engineering for the President's Special Award in recognition of their sterling efforts in developing the PeRSo respirator. The project is a great example of an interdisciplinary engineering team responding to an urgent need, working closely with clinical colleagues to develop a simple, yet practical solution.

"We were also very fortunate to have enthusiastic support from local industry, who worked around the clock in the early days, and without whom I am certain the final product would never have materialised."

Read the full story on the main news page.

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