Calibrating and verifying ventilators used to treat COVID-19 patients

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in unprecedented challenges for modern medicine. Procuring and manufacturing the medical supplies needed for hospital staff to support the critically ill while protecting themselves from the disease has become a priority for governments everywhere. To meet growing demand, companies that manufacture ventilators are working hard to increase output. Due to their repeatability and accuracy, Alicat flow controllers and pressure controllers are being used in ventilator test stands to calibrate and test these new ventilators.

Calibration stations

Alicat mass flow and pressure controllers are used as calibration standards in the manufacturing process. Our controllers offer an industry leading controllable range, and feed a variety of setpoints to a ventilator to test accuracy and repeatability of these life support devices. This ensures ventilators are operating within the desired parameters.

Ventilators require specific flow rates and pressure conditions to ensure sufficient oxygen delivery to patients, making accurate calibration of ventilators very important. The oxygen concentration in the air being delivered is set depending on FiO2 (Fraction of Inspired Oxygen), which is the lowest amount of oxygen that can help the patient reach the level of required blood oxygenation.

Because lung capacity varies by individual, a ventilator needs to be able to flow different amounts of oxygen-rich air to each patient with great accuracy. The amount of air a ventilator pumps into a patient’s lungs is dependent on many different factors which include lung function and oxygen saturation in the blood. Mechanical ventilation can be triggered by oxygen saturation levels or by a pre-determined number of breaths per minute. It is very important that the ventilator is calibrated against a reliable and stable standard so displayed flow rate and the actual flow rate being inspired is the same every time (repeatability).

Verification and testing

To ensure each ventilator is operating within the required specifications for all settings used in the field, the calibrated ventilators must go through a testing process to ensure they are operating at a set standard. This testing process is crucial to determining the performance of the device.

Alicat mass flow meters output flow rate, pressure, and temperature to confirm that the ventilators are supplying oxygen at the desired conditions. In a wide range of available options, protocols, and measurement ranges, Alicat devices offer ease of automation to increase the efficiency of the testing process.

Solution: Alicat mass flow and pressure controllers

Alicat devices meet critical calibration standards to ensure proper operation in calibration, verification, and testing processes for ventilators. The standards these test benches must meet include specifications such as: repeatability, accuracy, and control response time.

  • Repeatability (or precision) describes the closeness of measurements between separate tests when no other factors change. Alicat’s repeatability ensures that the tidal volume of each repetitive breath is reliably within the required specifications, ensuring proper ventilator function.
  • Accuracy relates the difference between the measured air flow and actual air flow in the system. Our accuracy ensures that you will get the right amount of air flow through the system ensuring your instrument always functions within tolerance.
  • Control response time indicates the amount of time it takes the controller to adjust to changing conditions (flow or pressure) it is given. Fast control response time is critical to both accurately simulate breathing and test a variety of flow and pressure conditions quickly. The measurements on both Alicat meters and controllers are updated every millisecond, so you know the data can be trusted.

Alicat is committed to helping meet the demands of ventilator production with products that are reliable, precise, and meet the demands of medical device testing. Our application engineering team is here to partner with you to determine the best technology for your application.

FastTrack Ordering

FastTrack products ship in 3-5 business days. Eligible hydrogen mass flow instruments include:

  • Meter ranges: 2 SCCM to 500 SLPM (standard and portable)
  • Controller ranges: 2 SCCM to 100 SLPM
  • Calibration: Standard or high accuracy
  • Display: Monochrome, color, or none
  • Communication protocol: Analog, RS-232, RS-485, or Modbus RTU
  • Electrical connector: MD8, locking industrial, DB9M, DB15
  • Fittings: NPT

FastTrack Ordering

M/MC mass flow meters and controllers that ship in just 3-5 business days.
Standard or High Accuracy
Monochrome, Color, or None
Analog, RS-232, RS-485, or Modbus RTU
MD8, Locking Industrial, DB9M, DB15


2 SCCM - 500SLPM


2 SCCM - 100SLPM

Service and Support

Whether it is time for your instrument’s annual recalibration or your instrument needs a repair or upgrade,
you can fill out the Service Request Form below, email us, call us, or start a live chat session to get the service process started.

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Duiven, The Netherlands