End-stage lung disease due to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a leading cause of death across the world. However, treatment options for end-stage COPD are extremely limited. An artificial membrane lung designed to provide pulmonary support, primarily by clearance of CO2, is a promising alternative treatment for end-stage COPD patients. Current hollow fiber membrane lungs feature a predominantly straight blood path length across the fiber bundle, resulting in limited oxygen transfer efficiency due to the boundary layer effect. Furthermore, these lungs also utilize long gas fibers relative to the blood path length, resulting in a limited CO2 clearance efficiency due to the build-up of CO2 within the fiber lumens.
Using computational fluid dynamics and optical flow visualization methods, a unique hollow fiber membrane lung was designed and created comprising concentric circular blood flow paths connected by gates, in addition to a short gas path length, referred to as the M-Lung. The M-Lung, comprising a fiber surface area of 0.28 m2 and priming volume of 47 mL, has a rated flow of 2 L/min and the oxygenation efficiency is 357 mL/min/m2. The CO2 clearance of the lung is 200 mL/min at the rated blood flow. Given its high gas transfer efficiency, as well as its compact size, low priming volume, and propensity for minimal thrombogenecity, this lung design has the potential to be used in a range of acute and chronic respiratory support applications, including providing CO2 clearance and partial oxygenation in adults with end-stage COPD as well as total respiratory support for infants and small children.