How oxygen concentrators can solve the oxygen shortage problem

Covid-19 has caused a major oxygen shortage in hospitals across the country.

In India’s fight against coronavirus, oxygen concentrators can become a key tool.

In this article, we’ll tell you what oxygen concentrators are & how they can solve oxygen shortage problem

An oxygen concentrator is a medical device that concentrates oxygen from ambient air and is an easy alternative to oxygen cylinders.

Unlike oxygen cylinders which are huge and heavy, oxygen concentrators are usually the size of a suitcase and are very portable.

According to a report by the World Health Organisation ( 2015 ), concentrators are designed for continuous operation and can produce oxygen 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for up to 5 years or more

How does oxygen concentrators work

Atmospheric air consists of 78% nitrogen, 21% oxygen and 1% other gases. The oxygen concentrator takes in this air, compresses it, filters it and delivers 90-95% pure oxygen.

These are the 5 steps involved in the concentrator process : 

  1. Takes in the air from the atmosphere 
  2. Compresses the air
  3. Removes nitrogen from the air
  4. Adjusts the way air is delivered
  5. Delivers 90-95% pure oxygen

How are oxygen concentrators different from oxygen cylinders

Oxygen concentrators are portable devices that just need a power source to work

 Whereas oxygen cylinders involve frequent refilling and thus involve transportation which not just adds to the recurring costs, but also take enormous time.

Oxygen concentrators can be set up easily by anyone, either at home or hospital or even while travelling ( Many concentrators come with a power adapter ). 

Whereas Cylinders are huge and bulky. At least, 2-3 people are needed to carry a cylinder from one place to another. Moreover, only experienced personnel know how to set up these. Home isolation patients particularly find it hard to set up these.

Oxygen concentrators are much less dangerous than traditional oxygen cylinders. 

Oxygen cylinders, if ruptured or leaking, cause or increase the combustion rate of fire. Oxygen concentrators pose no such danger.

The only area where the oxygen concentrator falls short in its advantages over the oxygen cylinder is the amount of oxygen it can supply per minutes. Oxygen concentrators can only supply 5-10 litres of oxygen per minute, but critical patients may need 40-50 litres per minute which cylinders can do.

Who can benefit from Oxygen concentrators?

  • Mild and moderate patients with oxygen saturation levels of 85% or above.
  • Patients who are getting treatment at home.
  • Hospitals and doctors would be able to treat more patients.
  • Critical patients will be able to get oxygen beds because moderate patients can use oxygen concentrators.

How can oxygen concentrators reduce the load on medical institutions?

Most of the patients who are getting admitted to hospitals are not in critical condition. There are limited oxygen beds / ICU beds with ventilators, but there is no shortage of regular beds.

If oxygen concentrators can be arranged in large numbers, a hospital can admit more patients and some patients can even get treated at home. This would also help patients in critical condition to get the oxygen beds which are in less number.

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