When the whole country is bewildered over the shortage of oxygen, the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay has come up with an ingenious solution to address the shortage of medical oxygen for the treatment of COVID-19 patients.
Tested successfully, they showed how a nitrogen unit could be converted into an oxygen unit, thus producing breathable oxygen. Initial tests done at IIT Bombay have shown promising results. Oxygen production could be achieved at 3.5 atm pressure, with a purity level of 93% – 96 %, the IIT said. This gaseous oxygen can be utilised for COVID-related needs across existing hospitals and upcoming COVID-19 specific facilities by providing a continuous supply of oxygen.
HOW NITROGEN UNIT IS CONVERTED TO OXYGEN UNIT
IIT Bombay Dean (R&D) Milind Atrey who led the project, said it was done by fine-tuning the existing Nitrogen Plant setup and changing the molecular sieves from Carbon to Zeolite.
“Such nitrogen plants, which take air from the atmosphere as raw material, are available in various industrial plants across India. Therefore, each of them could potentially be converted into an oxygen generator, thus helping us tide over the current public health emergency”, he added. The pilot project is a collaborative effort between IIT Bombay. Tata Consulting Engineers and Spantech Engineers, Mumbai, who deal with PSA Nitrogen & Oxygen plant production. A PSA Nitrogen plant in the Refrigeration and Cryogenics Laboratory of IIT was identified for conversion, to validate the proof of concept.
To undertake this study on an urgent basis, IIT Bombay, Tata Consulting Engineers and Spantech Engineers engaged in a Memorandum of Understanding. Spantech Engineers installed the required plant components as a skid at Indian Institute of Technology Bombay for evaluation using IIT Bombay’s infrastructure at the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, Nitrogen facility at the Refrigeration and Cryogenics lab.