India to Import “Medical Oxygen” to cater demand

What is the News? A number of states are reporting shortages of medical oxygen for a growing number of Covid-19 patients. This is why, India is planning to import 50,000 metric tonnes of medical oxygen to cater to the rising demand.

About Medical Oxygen:
  • Medical oxygen is high purity oxygen suitable for use in the human body. So, it is used for medical treatments.
  • No other types of gases are present in the medical oxygen cylinder. This is to prevent contamination.
Applications in the medical field:
  • Firstly, Provide a basis for virtually all modern anesthetic techniques.
  • Secondly, Restore tissue oxygen tension by improving oxygen availability in a wide range of conditions such as shock, severe hemorrhage, carbon monoxide poisoning, major trauma, cardiac/respiratory arrest
  • Thirdly, Aid resuscitation (action or process of reviving someone from unconsciousness or apparent death)
  • Fourthly, Provide life support for artificially ventilated patients, etc.
Manufacturing and distribution of Cylinders
  • Manufacturers prepare Medical oxygen cylinders with 99.5% high purity liquid oxygen.
  • Using the Pressure Swing Adsorption (PSA) plants the companies manufacture medical oxygen. PSA is a technology used to separate some gas (here oxygen) from a mixture of gases under pressure.
  • Manufacturers prepare oxygen in liquid form. Later they store this liquid oxygen in jumbo tankers or transport it in cryogenic tankers at a specified temperature.
  • At the distributor level, they perform the process of regasification. After that, they store oxygen gases in jumbo cylinders and dura cylinders.


  • Oxygen poses a fire risk: Oxygen is highly inflammable. So, the lab or Oxygen cylinder has to be smoke-free and avoid using any flammable materials nearby when using oxygen.
Why is there a need for Medical Oxygen?
  • During diseases such as Covid-19, oxygen levels are low. It results in low oxygen levels in the cells in the body, not sufficient to do their normal function.
  • If the oxygen levels are low for a long time without any treatment then the cells themselves stop working completely and can actually die.
  • This may impact the organs such as the brain, heart, lungs, and kidney which may start malfunctioning, Hence, it is useful as a life-saving treatment in these extreme cases.
How medical oxygen is different from others?

There is a big difference between regular oxygen, medical oxygen and industrial oxygen.

  • Firstly, atmospheric oxygen: In the atmosphere, dry air contains 78.09% nitrogen, 20.95% oxygen, 0.93% argon, 0.04% carbon dioxide, and small amounts of other gases. So in atmosphere Oxygen content is approximately 21% only.
  • Secondly, industrial oxygen: It is used in industrial plants especially in combustion, oxidation, cutting and chemical reactions. The industrial oxygen purity levels are not appropriate for human use. It contains impurities from dirty equipment or industrial storage that could make people ill. Industrial oxygen is used in the iron and steel industry, the manufacture of vials, the glass industry, etc

Source: Indian Express

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