COVID-19: CSIR lab develops technology to meet oxygen demand, minimise storage risks

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New Delhi, Apr 22 (PTI) The CSIR on Thursday said an “oxygen enrichment” technology has been developed by one of its laboratories to meet the oxygen demand and minimise the supply chain problem of transportation and storage risks related to oxygen cylinders amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research’s (CSIR) Central Mechanical Engineering Research Institute (CMERI) has transferred the technology virtually to M/s Apollo Computing Laboratories (P) Ltd, Kushaiguda, Hyderabad.

As the nation grapples with the surge of coronavirus cases, oxygen therapy is recommended for severe illness caused by the infection. At the same time, several states have reported acute shortage of medical grade oxygen.

Talking about the technology, Professor Harish Hirani, director, CSIR-CMERI, said the unit requires easily available oil free reciprocating compressor, oxygen grade zeolite sieves and pneumatic components.

“It is capable of delivering medical air in the range of up to 15 LPM (litre per minute) with oxygen purity of more than 90 per cent. If required, this unit can even deliver up to 70 LPM at a purity of around 30 per cent and can safely be placed in the isolation ward of hospitals for patients who are in dire need of oxygen,” he said.

This will help the accessibility of oxygen in remotest places and widest points of need. The outreach factor of oxygen will be multiplied through the adoption of this in-situ and decentralised generation of oxygen, Hirani said.

He said further research is going on to develop a pulse dose mode which is capable of sensing the breathing pattern of a patient and then deliver during inhalation only.

“This mode is supposed to reduce the oxygen demand by around 50 per cent when compared with the current version of continuous mode,” the professor added.

The CSIR-CMERI has already invited Expression of Interest (EOI) from Indian companies, manufacturing agencies, MSMEs or start-ups for manufacturing Oxygen Enrichment Units through Technology Transfer.

Jaipal Reddy of M/s Apollo Computing Laboratories said the first prototype will be developed within 10 days and the production will start from the second week of May.

They have presently the manufacturing capacity of 300 units per day which may be augmented on demand, he said.

Reddy said their company is planning to develop the unit both as standalone as 'Oxygen Enrichment Unit' as well as with integrated version with 'Swasth Vayu' technology of CSIR-National Aerospace Laboratories.

He stressed that the unit is essentially required as “mini ICUs” at small hospitals and isolation centres and at remote villages and places.

By the use of oxygen concentrators, the optimum utilisation of oxygen to needy patients may also be ensured.

If this facility is provided to COVID-19 patients at initial stage, their visits to hospitals and further ventilator support may be avoided in most of the cases, the CSIR said.

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