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Saturday, June 12, 2021

In Punjab, a battle against time to convert industrial oxygen for medical purposes

Gas suppliers said they had their hands full, often working long hours, converting not just industrial oxygen cylinders, but also those of nitrogen and argon ones, into cylinders capable of holding and carrying medical oxygen.

Written by Anju Agnihotri Chaba | Jalandhar |
Updated: May 10, 2021 9:57:18 am
Raman Gupta of Mandi Gobindgarh based Oxygen Generation plant, which is supplying industrial oxygen, along with medical oxygen cylinders.

The demand for medical oxygen has shot through the roof and suppliers and generation units are working overtime to cope with the demands from a state that is battling the ferocity of the second wave of the Covid crisis.

Gas suppliers said they had their hands full, often working long hours, converting not just industrial oxygen cylinders, but also those of nitrogen and argon ones, into cylinders capable of holding and carrying medical
oxygen.

As per Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for converting industrial oxygen cylinders to medical ones, the cylinder needs to be completely degassed, after which the valve is to be removed and cleaned with a cleaning solution and completely dried and flushed thereafter with air. After this, the cylinder is to be both internally and externally cleaned with mild detergent and then degreased with a cleaning solution. After this the cylinder is to be filled with warm water, which is to be then drained out, and then the cylinder is to be dried with air, whereafter the cylinder is to be painted as required for medical oxygen.

There are two types of gas B and D Type. B type is smaller with capacity of 1.5 Cu.M while D type is the bigger with a 7 Cu.M capacity.

“I have been working tirelessly for the past 12 days to convert industrial gas cylinders into medical oxygen ones, but the pendency still is huge. I am mostly getting nitrogen and argon cylinders for conversion at my plant,” said Moga-based Richi Nagi, who runs Preet Cryogenic Company, which supplies liquid medical oxygen to Punjab and Haryana. The bottling unit has a capacity of filling 1500 cylinder per day, but due to shortage of liquid oxygen, it is supplying around 800 cylinders daily at present.

Richi Nagi of Moga based Preet Cryogenic company, which is a medical oxygen supplier for Punjab and Haryana hospitals, is now doing a parallel job of converting industrial gas cylinders into medical cylinders.

“To convert a cylinder takes a huge amount of time. But because of the crisis, we have been working day and night. We have hired labourers and have been converting 90 to 95 cylinders into medical oxygen cylinders in a day,” Nagi said. He added that work mostly was two-fold: operating a bottling plant to fill liquid O2 into converted cylinders, as well as converting industrial-use cylinders into medical ones. The plant has been operating for 24 hours a day, he says.

He also added that they have been supplying oxygen as per the orders of the government and their plant is always open for the poor and needy.

Raman Gupta, a partner in KCA Enterprises — an Air Separation Unit (ASU) for generating atmospheric oxygen as well as liquid oxygen bottling plant at Mandi Gobindgarh town of District Fatehgarh Sahib — said that he has got around 1000-1100 industrial gas cylinders with him and he is getting these converted into the medical ones. “We are washing, removing rust, changing the valves for uninterrupted supply of oxygen, which has around 96-98 per cent purity against 99.67 per cent purity for industrial purpose. Gupta said he keeps some cylinders in reserve in case of an emergency. “We are also getting medical cylinders from the hospitals, for filling. If there is a shortage of such cylinders at hospitals, then we provide them with our converted cylinders,” he said.

“We have over 10,000 cylinders in Mandi Gobindgarh’s six oxygen generation plants which are being converted into the medical supply cylinders as per requirement,” said Ravinder Singh, Nodal Officer for Oxygen at Fatehgarh Sahib, adding that 3,000 cylinders, both B and D types, are being supplied from the Mandi Gobindgarh daily to all hospitals in 22 districts.

Apart from this, the district administrative authorities are collecting industrial cylinders from areas under their jurisdiction and sending them for conversion to Moga-based plants, besides making a cylinder bank that can be utilised at the time of need.

“We have been taking the stock of all industrial gas cylinders including oxygen, argon and nitrogen, so that we can have a fair idea of the availability in times of a crisis,” said one of the Deputy Commissioners in Doaba region.

It is learnt that the Rail Coach factory (RCF) Kapurthala too has 141 industrial gas cylinders that will also be converted into medical purposes.

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