Ford engineers come up with a ton of ideas. Some are cool and potentially game-changing. Others are just downright weird. But this idea, using a component from America’s best-selling vehicle, could aid in fast-tracking the production of much-needed respirators to help with the covid-19 pandemic.
Ford announced that it is partnering with 3M to ramp up production of powered air-purifying respirators (also known as PAPRs) used by healthcare workers and first responders. Ford plans to help ramp up production of 3M’s current design — and produce a version using the fan from the F-150’s seat cooling system to blow air through 3M filters.
As Road and Track noted in their analysis, the seat blower motors are a good fit for a PAPR device. They can blow more than enough air for the task, they’re relatively compact, and energy-efficient enough that a portable power tool battery could power them for the eight hours required. Plus, Ford sold nearly 75,000 F-150 pickups per month in 2019, so they presumably could source a large number of those fans.
Ford believes it can help produce the new PAPR units at one of its Michigan facilities and increase 3M’s production tenfold. The company also plans to help GE Healthcare increase the production of its ventilators and to design a new, transparent face shield design to pair with N95 respirators.
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