Cerebrospinal Fluid Pump

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2017 NeuroForce Logo.jpg
Image by Krissy Buckler
Team Name neuroForce
Duration Summer 2017 - Fall 2017
Faculty Adviser
  • Steve Beyerlein
  • Sarah Willis
  • Dr. Bryn Martin
Team Members
  • Krissy Buckler
  • Nick Shaber
  • Claire Majors
  • Brian Aldrimk

The goal of the project is to design, test and refine a compact, low-cost, oscillatory-flow pump that will reproduce realistic cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) flow conditions within a given range of human/animal cerebrospinal models. Flow rates mimic cardiac and respiratory frequencies and have an adjustable frequency and flow volume.

Problem Definition[edit]


Model of a Human Spinal Cord. *Source: www.NIML.org
2017 NeuroForce MRI.gif


Central nervous system (CNS) diseases can be difficult to treat because many potential drugs cannot reach the brain due to the blood brain barrier. A potential new route to get drugs to the brain is to inject them into the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). One way to bypass the blood brain barrier is by direct injection of drugs to the CSF. Drugs can then spread/mix in the CSF and be distributed directly to the brain and spinal cord tissue surface.

The CSF is a clear water-like fluid located around the entire brain and spinal cord and pulses each time the heart beats thereby making it a good medium to transport drugs to the CNS. One problem with delivering drugs to the CNS by the CSF is that it requires extremely expensive (and ethically nebulous) animal studies to understand and optimize the delivery device and protocol. Thus, the NIML is designing the world's first laboratory bench-top simulator of the complete CSF system for brain therapeutic development. They have an ongoing project to make a detailed in vitro model that accurately represents the CSF anatomy and flow that would accommodate testing with medical devices. The Cerebrospinal Fluid Pump project is designed to pair with the NIML's existing human spinal model to make a complete CSF system simulation.

Oscillatory Flow[edit]

By definition flow of fluid, gas, or electricity moves along or out steadily and continuously in a current or stream and oscillation is the repetitive variation, typically in time, of some measure about an equilibrium. Together, oscillatory flow is the variation of a wave frequency in time.

The oscillatory waveform chosen to mimic the same frequency of a heat beat takes the form of a sinusoidal wave. Typically, a resting healthy human heat beat can range anywhere from 60 to 100 beats per minute (bpm). The use of fluid dynamics can assist in predicting the behaviors of flow in a pump in multiple ways. With a known frequency or speed of a fluid, displacement or stroke volume, and the area of the cylinder that the fluid is passing though, then the continuity equation can be used as a way to model fluid flow. Another basic equation that can be used to predict other aspects of fluid flow such as pressure is Bernoulli’s Equation.

Syringe travel force[edit]

Time and force required for a manual injection (or time required for an injection using an autoinjector) are important and may impact the usability of the product by the end-user and thus compliance. The force required for the injection of a solution at a given injection rate via a needle of predetermined gauge and length is referred to as ‘syringeability’ [2]. The Hagen-Poiseuille equation can be utilized to estimate the travel (or glide) force (Equation 1).


Q = Volumetric flow rate

μ = Fluid viscosity

L = Needle length

R = Needle inner diameter

A = Cross sectional area of syringe plunger

F = Frictionless travel force


The cerebrospinal-fluid pump must produce an oscillating flow within spinal cord models ranging from the size of a human to a small vertebrate. This flow must be adjustable in volume and frequency. Ideally the design should be low-cost and easy to operate, as it is intended to be widely distributed for laboratory testing. The design must also include a 5V, square wave-form trigger that simulates the human heartbeat in MRI testing.


Specifications NeuroForce.jpg

Design Concepts[edit]

Belt Design[edit]

  • Belt driven by 2 stepper motors.
  • Dowel rod slider connected to belt and syringe to guide linear motion.
  • Highly programmable.
  • Could be compact.
  • Pre built parts can be found online.

  • Code the motor to produce a sinusoidal motion.

  • Trapezoidal Waveform

Future development: Buy a pre-built linear belt drive actuator, Write a code for stepper movement for a more accurate sinusoidal back and forth movement.

Flywheel Design[edit]

2017 NeuroForce Flywheel.jpeg

  • Single stepper motor drive
  • Adjustable flow volume
    • Lead screw adjustment for eccentricity offset
    • Interchangeable syringe mount
  • Light weight and Compact
    • single motor
    • Total length ≈ 2inches more than syringe length
  • Frequency adjustable through computer Control
  • Frequency computer controlled
  • Robust/Repeat-ability
  • Easily convertable to non-ferrous materials
  • Simple integration for a pneumatic motor control
  • Manual volume control
  • Achieved Sinusoidal Wave Form
  • Tested Frequency:  2.5 Hz
  • Other Testing: Slow down frequency to get better sin wave result

Linear Actuator[edit]

  • Servo-motor linear actuator with relay.
  • programmable linear motion.
  • Simple
  • Compact
  • Coding ability 
  • Finding the right one that meet the specs
  • Triangular waveform

Project learning[edit]

Linear Actuation[edit]

Linear Motion: creates motion in a straight line, often made by harnessing circular motion and transforming it into linear.

Electro-Mechanical Actuator: 1.Screw :by rotating a machine’s nut or screw, its counterpart is moved in a line.

2.Wheel & axle:a rotating wheel moves a cable or belt.

3.Cam: a sliding pin connection converts rotation to linear motion.

Piezoelectric Actuator:

Properties of its material (usually ceramic) cause it to expand when voltage is applied. Works well for precise positioning, uses little power, generates no magnetic field, and has the fastest acceleration rate. However its range of motion is limited and the material is susceptible to hysteresis. A good option for future development with MRI testing.

Hydraulic Actuator:

Made of a hollow cylinder with piston surrounded with fluid. Since liquids are incompressible (nearly), can give precise linear displacement. Useful for heavy loads. Disadvantages are noise, heat, and leakage trouble.

Pneumatic Actuator:

Like the hydraulic actuator, but uses compressed gas to generate force. Not suitable for heavy loads; typically used in applications requiring less than 100 PSI, or for high force and small displacements. A good option for future development with MRI testing.

Team Members[edit]

Brian Aldrimk:

Major: Mechanical Engineering/Pre-med
Hometown: Eagle,ID
Graduation Date: May 2018
Hobbies: Traveling, Volunteer work, Hiking, Tennis
Skills/Team Responsibilities: Project management, 3D design, programming, prototyping and testing
Future Goals: Medical Doctor
Email: aldr1383@vandals.uidaho.edu

2017 NeuroForce KrissyProfile.jpg
Krissy Buckler:

Major: BS in Mechanical Engineering
Minor: Mathematics
Hometown: Tumwater, WA
Graduation Date: December 2017
Hobbies: Culinary Arts, Upcycle Crafting, Graphic Design
Skills/Team Responsibilities: Organization, Design, 3D Modeling/Machining
Future Goals: Work in prosthetics design or rehabilitative robotics.
Email: buck8903@vandals.uidaho.edu

Claire Majors:

Major: Mechanical Engineering
Hometown: Kamiah, ID
Graduation Date: December 2017
Hobbies: Backpacking, Spanish, Snowboarding, Motorcycling, Literature and History
Skills/Team Responsibilities: 3-D Modeling & Printing, Arduino Programming, Project Budget, Design
Future Goals: Aerospace Design, Manufacturing, and Flight
Email: lucy8500@vandals.uidaho.edu

Nick Shaber:

Major: Mechanical Engineering
Minor: Mathematics
Hometown: Spokane Valley, WA
Graduation Date: December 2017
Hobbies: Fishing, Hunting, Backpacking, Skiing, Automotive Work
Skills/Team Responsibilities: Modeling, Concept Design, Machining and GUE Programming
Future Goals: Design and Manufacturing work with Mechanics and Materials Emphasis
Email: shab4213@vandals.uidaho.edu

Additional Documentation[edit]

Project Schedule[edit]

File:Neuro Force Fall Schedule 2017.pdf

Meeting Minutes[edit]

File:NeuroForce Meeting Minutes 2017.pdf


File:NeuroForce Design Review Notes 2017.pdf
File:NeuroForce Design Review Slides 2017.pdf

Client Interview[edit]

File:NeuroForce Client Interview 2017.pdf