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CSIR-IIP, Dehradun designs oxygen enrichment units that can generate 500 litres per minute

The research institution has tied up with Gaskon engineering company and is looking at other partners so that production can be ramped up.

Written by Anuradha Mascarenhas | Pune |
Updated: April 15, 2021 8:42:05 pm
In view of the spike in Covid cases, there has been an unusual rise in the demand for medical oxygen. (Express photo)

In an effort to provide an inexhaustible supply of oxygen to hospitals, the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research-Indian Institute of Petroleum (CSIR-IIP), Dehradun, has developed oxygen enrichments units that can generate up to 500 litres per minute of medical-grade oxygen.

Medical oxygen is a critical component in the treatment of Covid-affected patients. In view of the spike in cases, there has been an unusual rise in the demand of medical oxygen as well as steep rise in projections of the anticipated demand for medical oxygen in some states, according to a statement from the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

Director General of CSIR, Dr Shekhar Mande, told The Indian Express that they have identified fabricators who can make these units based on the CSIR-IIP design, and have also invited hospitals to contact them if the latter required such units. “We can go and install the plant through the fabricator at any hospital in the country. It can be IOT-enabled. The manpower cost comes down significantly compared to use of oxygen cylinders and since it is IOT-enabled, how much medical care oxygen is being produced can be monitored from a remote site – say from the reception of a hospital. The staff can keep monitoring the level of oxygen and if there are fluctuations, then company personnel can have a look at it online,” said Dr Mande.

Director of CSIR-IIP, Dr Anjan Ray, told The Indian Express that there are two conventional ways in which hospitals get medical oxygen. “In the big hospitals, there are large liquid oxygen plants, where tankers bring in the liquid oxygen and this is blown into distributed pipes going to patients. This is an expensive method but easy to distribute. Smaller hospitals have big cylinders and typically, for about four patients, one cylinder is used.”

He added, “Using time-tested concepts of oxygen concentration by pressure-swing adsorption (PSA) elsewhere in the world, we made an innovation that allows oxygen to be produced more efficiently and cheaply – using pressure vacuum swing adsorption technology (PVSA). The hassle of managing cylinders with manpower disappears and reduces the load of constantly buying cylinders so that we create an essentially inexhaustible oxygen supply chain for each hospital.”

Now, the research institute has tied up with Gaskon Engineering Company and is also looking at other partners so that production can be ramped up.

Dr Swapnil Divekar, principal scientist at the institute, said they started in-house work a year ago but when the pandemic reached an alarming level, they designed the process, and in December 2020, set up a demonstration plant.

“The earlier work was done on a small scale but it was scaled up later. We installed the demonstration unit and have been rigorously testing the process related to the reliability of design and plant for the past four months. We have been successful in achieving the purification target through our process,” said Dr Divekar.

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