Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

M. Eng.



Committee Chair

McNamara, Shamus

Author's Keywords

Knudsen pump; drug delivery; thermal transpiration; human powered; infusion pump; dermal wounds


Microelectromechanical systems; Pumping machinery; Drug infusion pumps


Dermal wounds, including bed sores, pressure ulcers, and diabetic ulcers have a large impact on American healthcare costing up to $7 billion per year. Adequate pharmaceutical remedies applied at constant rate could prove to increase the healing rate of these wounds and save money. An infusion pump is proposed in this study to supply low flow pharmaceuticals to dermal wounds, and it is operated by a human powered Knudsen pump. This Knudsen pump provides a novel approach to the problem since it has no moving parts and it is operated by human body heat. The Knudsen pump works on the theory of thermal transpiration, which states that when a temperature difference is applied across a narrow channel, a pressure difference is formed. The temperature difference for the human powered Knudsen pump is the difference between the skin of the patient and the ambient temperature. Air flows through the Knudsen pump and applies pressure to pharmaceutical bag that drive the pharmaceuticals toward the patient. Two designs were analyzed in the study, one integrated a Knudsen pump and reservoir and the second cascaded the Knudsen pump and reservoir. The first device had a maximum output flow rate of 2.6 µL/sec and the second device had an output flow rate of 7.37 µL/hour. The study was successful in creating a human powered Knudsen pump to drive a fluid with the second design being adaptable to potentially create any flow rate necessary.