A faculty member at IIT-Bombay has found a new way of solving the shortage of oxygen in India. Prof Milind Atrey, dean (R&D) at IIT-Bombay took a pilot project t to evaluate the conversion of PSA (Pressure Swing Adsorption) Nitrogen Unit to PSA oxygen unit. The project is being pursued in collaboration with Tata Consulting Engineers Limited (TCE).
The IIT claims that as part of the project, the processor had fine-tuned the existing Nitrogen Plant setup and changed the molecular sieves from Carbon to Zeolite. “Such Nitrogen plants, which take air from the atmosphere as raw material, are available across India in various industrial plants. Therefore, each of them has the potential of being converted to an oxygen generator to tide over the current emergency,” the IIT said in an official statement.
At IIT Bombay, a PSA Nitrogen plant in the Refrigeration and Cryogenics Laboratory was identified for conversion to validate the proof of concept. To undertake this study on an urgent basis, an MOU was signed between IIT Bombay, Tata Consulting Engineers, and Spantech Engineers to finalise a SOP that may be leveraged across the country.
Spantech Engineers, Mumbai, who deal with PSA Nitrogen & Oxygen plant production, agreed to partner with IIT Bombay and TCE on this pilot project and installed the required plant components as a skid at IIT Bombay for evaluation using IIT Bombay’s infrastructure at the IITB Nitrogen facility at the Refrigeration and Cryogenics lab. This setup for the experiment was developed within three days, and the initial tests have shown promising results. Oxygen production could be achieved at 3.5 atm pressure with a purity level of 93-96 per cent. This gaseous oxygen can be utilised for COVID-related needs across existing hospitals and upcoming COVID-specific facilities by providing a continuous supply of oxygen.
Prof. Subhasis Chaudhuri, Director IIT Bombay, congratulated all the involved parties and said that such partnership between academia and industry is highly desirable and essential for the growth and success of our nation. He also encouraged the teams to conceptualise innovative ideas and generate indigenous IP that can be leveraged across multiple sectors in meeting the country’s needs. Prof. Chaudhuri encourages and requests various government authorities, NGOs, and private companies to contact Prof. Milind Atrey, IIT Bombay, and Tata Consulting Engineers to know more about this project and its rapid adoption across the country.