An overview of our projects

Even before the Corona pandemic, respiratory diseases were the third leading cause of death in the EU. However, state-of-the-art therapy methods such as ECMO (Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation) are characterized by limited efficiency and severe side effects.

In the newly approved EIC Pathfinder project Biomembros (Biomimetic Membranes for Organ Support), BiofluidsLab will take a biomimetic approach to mimic and integrate elements of avian respiration, which is far more efficient than human respiration, and thus form the basis for more efficient therapy methods with fewer side effects. The overall goal is to develop a platform technology as a core element for efficient support systems for membrane-based processes in the human body.

The highly competitive Pathfinder program of the EIC (European Innovation Council) supports the exploration of bold ideas for radical new technologies. It funds interdisciplinary high-risk/high-gain projects in cutting-edge research that enable technological breakthroughs.
The multidisciplinary BioMembrOS project is coordinated by TU Wien (Prof. Margit Gföhler, Prof. Michael Harasek). In addition to MedUni Vienna, partners from Portugal, Italy, Germany and South Africa are involved in the three-and-a-half-year project., opens an external URL in a new window


Logo BioMembrOS

The critically ill patient in many cases develops respiratory insufficiency, up to the most severe form, acute respiratory failure, which is associated with very high mortality. Mechanical ventilation is life-saving for many patients, but it can also cause direct damage to lung tissue, due to unphysiologically high ventilation pressures and the generation of shear and tensile forces that lead to rupture and inflammatory reactions at the interfaces of the alveoli. The concept of superimposed high-frequency jet ventilation (SHFJV) provides an alternative to further increases in pressure and the associated risk of complications. SHFJV is a pressure-driven ventilation technique that uses two jet streams at different frequencies simultaneously. Clinical studies have shown improvement in oxygenation and alveolar recruitment with high-frequency ventilation, but the exact mechanism of action of this technique is not yet known. For further improvement of the ventilation technique, it is essential to clarify the characteristics of gas flow in distal lung segments and possible mechanisms leading to rapid recruitment of alveoli.

The aim of the HiELuVent project is to model and analyze transient gas flow and mass transport from the trachea to the alveoli in a multi-scale model using state-of-the-art numerical (CFD) and experimental (µ/3D PIV) methods. Subsequently, an automated simulation platform (digital twin - Digital Twin) will be developed for studying the effect of ventilation parameters of high-frequency jet ventilation on flow behavior and gas exchange in the lungs. A GUI (Graphical User Interface) shall allow the user to easily enter boundary conditions (ventilator settings such as frequency, pressure, amplitude) and select defined process and output parameters. Influencing parameters such as size ratios, affected lung areas and current lung mechanics (compliance, resistance) shall be taken into account, so that the ventilation method can be adapted to individual physiological parameters and clinical pictures, with the aim of reducing damage and mortality rates during mechanical ventilation.

HiELuVent Logo in blue and red with sinuscurve in front
Lung with schematic representation of the HiELuVent structure
Simulation of a part of the brochial tree with alveoli

In this project, the goal is to optimize geometry and flow characteristics of scaffolds for optimal cell growth and nutrition of bone cells and to evaluate the characteristic of the optimized scaffolds with respect to tissue maturation and under clinically-relevant loading regimes

Scafflow Logo

In this project we investigate the influence of various synthetic surfaces on blood viscosity and visco-elasticity. These blood characteristics need to be considered in the development of cardio-respiratory assist devices.

Surfaces roughness resin colored in orange and blue/green tones
Surface star shaped structure

Within this project we will extend our already available µPIV equipment to a V3V system, the latest V3V-Flex™ volumetric PIV system from TSI that allows to do not only planar but volumetric measurements of flows in microchannel, and investigate 3D flow field and fluid-structure interaction in a pump-membrane device and flow field and shear stress distribution in a scaffold in a micro-bioreactor


According to WHO, some 2.2 billion people around the world do not have safely managed drinking water. Biofluidslab contributes to this topic with the development of a mobile desalination unit for sea and brackish water mounted on a standard bicycle. With this device, clean drinking water can be gained out of sea water even while cycling!

Bicycle with mobile desalination unit attached to the back, connected by chain with bicycle drive

High flow nasal cannula (HFNC) oxygen therapy, has a number of physiological advantages over conventional oxygen therapy, such as reduced anatomical dead volume, lower inspiratory ventilation pressure and a relatively constant oxygen concentration in the inspiratory gas (FiO2). Although only a few large randomized clinical trials have been conducted to date, HFNC has become increasingly important as an alternative respiratory support for critically ill patients. Numerous published reports suggest that HFNC reduces the respiratory rate and work of breathing and the need to further increase the respiratory support as the disease progresses. HFNC can therefore be considered an innovative and effective method for the early treatment of adults suffering from respiratory insufficiency caused by various underlying diseases.
However, in the context of a global pandemic that threatens to overwhelm the capacities of health care systems, the use of existing devices is limited due to two factors. First, existing systems only allow for the treatment of one patient at a time and secondly require an independent oxygen supply. Therefore, we propose a HFNC device that is capable of providing several patients with oxygen enriched air, based on a membrane separation process allowing the use without existing oxygen infrastructure.

Oxygenator ,,O2Cell" in grey/blue

High-performance hollow-fiber membranes for applications in biomedical engineering and mass separation technology.
Aim of this project is to establish a manufacturing process for a novel generation of membranes with more flexible dimensions and surface structures, using biocompatible membrane polymers with high selectivity.

Fiber spinning plant
spinning plant, insulated hoses lead into metal housing of spinneret
Polymer solution is further processed, passed through a spinneret and cured in a water bath to obtain hollow fibers

Aim of the project MILL – “Minimal Invasive Liquid Lung” - is to develop an intravascular membrane catheter for gas exchange in venous blood with an integrated propulsion system. Membrane technology, fluid dynamics and biomedical design methods are applied to develop a device that can be minimal invasively inserted into the vena cava and remove at least 20 % of metabolic CO2 production. As a novelty, liquid perfluorocarbon (PFC) is used to sweep the fiber lumens. Using liquid PFC avoids the risk of gas embolism in case of leakage as PFCs have high CO2 solubility and are used as blood substitutes in clinical applications.


Aim of the LiquiClear project is the development and testing of an intravascular membrane catheter in which CO2 is removed from the blood. As a transport medium for the CO2 from the body, the blood substitute perfluorocarbon (PFC) is used. The membrane catheter has a built-in miniature pump that compensates for pressure loss and controls blood flow for optimal passage through the membrane. In an external oxygenator, the CO2 is released into the air.

Inner workings of the heart pump

The Assistocor device is a tiny heart catheter pump with air propulsion for assistance of temporary cardiac failure.

  • Pumping unit powered by micro turbine, torque transmission over magnetic coupling and hermetic separation
  • Pump rotor outer diameter 5,05 mm
  • Pump's rotational speed controlled by helium flow through turbine,
    2.5 L/min against 100 mmHg at ~ 40000 rpm
  • Main components 3D printed alumina
  • Minimal invasive placement

The IVFA is a miniaturized left ventricular assist device that is fixed to the ventricular apex and increases pressure directly in the ventricle to ensure blood discharge into the aorta.
Primary field of application is cardiomyopathy.

In pulse-controlled mode the pump conveys 3L blood/min at 16800 rpm, pressure difference 80 mmHg.

The blood pump is powered by a small electrical motor, a magnetic coupling ensures hermetic separation of motor and blood contacting components.

Heart sine curve