Engineering Students Help Improve Artificial Kidney Design

April 23, 2015

By Abigail Esposito

ALLIANCE, Ohio – University of Mount Union mechanical engineering students shared their design for an improved filtration unit of an implantable artificial kidney at SCHOLAR Day.

The EME 490 Mechanical Engineering Capstone Design group consisted of senior mechanical engineering majors Mark Amabeli of Alliance, Ohio, Colin Combs of Pickerington, Ohio, Matthew Jones of Ravenna, Ohio and Lexi Scala of Aliquippa, Pennsylvania. The students were advised by Dr. Dhanunjay Boyalakuntla, assistant professor of mechanical engineering.

Students worked in collaboration with Mount alumnus Dr. Shuvo Roy ’92 who works at the University California, San Francisco. Roy and his team are currently developing an implantable artificial kidney.

Currently, 20 million Americans suffer from chronic kidney disease. There are limited treatment options; therefore, Roy’s team is working to advance technology with the implantable artificial kidney. The project is now undergoing animal testing and clinical trials are expected to start by 2017.

The major components of the implantable artificial kidney are the filtration unit and the bioreactor. The students focused on the filtration unit to optimize blood flow through the channels of the implant.

To complete the project, students had to learn how a kidney functions and what the common reasons are for failure to minimize the chance of failure. Present kidney failure treatments include dialysis technology or kidney transplant.

Students explored the effects of surface roughness, porosity and Non-Newtonian blood flow of the artificial kidney. Through the project, students learned how to use the ANSYS Fluent and SolidWorks software and execute extensive research on the kidneys and artificial organ technology.

“We had to learn the ANSYS Fluent program on our own from scratch,” Amabeli said.  “We desired to learn as much about the kidney as possible to utilize it in the ANSYS Fluent program as well.”

Simulations involving particulate fluid modeling are the next testing step for the artificial kidney.

“We hope the future engineering students at Mount Union continue to refine and develop the artificial kidney,” Combs said.

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