What are “Oxygen concentrators” and how are they different from Oxygen cylinders?

What is the News?

Currently, Oxygen concentrators are in much demand for oxygen therapy. Demand is high especially among patients in home isolation and for hospitals running out of oxygen.

About Oxygen Concentrators:
  • Oxygen Concentrator is a medical device. It filters oxygen from the atmosphere and helps individuals inhale it through a mask or cannula.
How does it work?
  • Atmospheric air has about 78% nitrogen and 21% oxygen with other gases making up the remaining 1%.
  • The concentrator takes in this atmospheric air, filters it through a sieve. Further, it releases the nitrogen back into the air and works on the remaining oxygen.
  • This oxygen compressed and dispensed through a cannula, is 90-95% pure.
  • A pressure valve in concentrators helps regulate supply, ranging from 1-10 litres of oxygen per minute.
How is it different from oxygen cylinders and LMO?
  • The oxygen cylinder gives you a finite amount of oxygen. When the cylinder is empty, it needs to be refilled. Whereas the concentrator pulls oxygen from the air. So it can provide a consistent supply of oxygen, and it only needs a power source to draw in Atmospheric air.
  • Oxygen Concentrators are portable and need no special temperature. On the other hand, Liquid Medical Oxygen(LMO) needs to be stored and transported in cryogenic tankers.
  • Oxygen from Concentrators is not as pure as Liquid Medical Oxygen (LMO) which is 99% pure oxygen. But it is good enough for mild and moderate Covid-19 patients with oxygen saturation levels of 85% or above. However, it is not advisable for ICU patients.
  • Oxygen concentrators are the easiest alternatives to cylinders but can only supply 5-10 liters of oxygen per minute (critical patients may need 40-50 liters per minute).
  • Oxygen Concentrators are more expensive than Oxygen cylinders. But it is largely a one-time investment. Apart from electricity and routine maintenance, there is a little operational cost. While oxygen cylinders incur refilling and transportation costs.

Source: Indian Express

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