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  • Himani Vora


The earth became oxygenated around 2.3 billion years ago. No one knows quite why this lung-friendly gas suddenly became a significant part of the atmosphere. Still, a NASA study talks about the geologic changes on earth that led to oxygen produced by photosynthesising organisms.

Oxygen- A colourless gas which makes around 21% of the earth's atmosphere is today's most amplified topic of discussion. Our relentless need for oxygen in this pandemic has made patients gasping for life.

Medical grade Oxygen, a high oxygen concentration between 90% to 99% purity, is in dire need today for patients infected with Covid19. Scientists are working out the best method to extract oxygen from the air, eliminate the impurities and make it breathable. One such technology in use is the Pressure Swing Adsorption (PSA) generators to manufacture medical grade oxygen on hospital campuses.

Adsorption is defined as the affinity of fluid for a solid surface. Using the differential affinities of various gas mixture components, such as air, it is possible to separate the multiple parts. PSA generators work on this principle. PSA generators come in different sizes and even oxygen concentrators at home for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease ( an inflammatory lung disease obstructs the airflow to lungs) on this technology.

PSA Generators operate near ambient temperatures and use specific adsorbent materials like zeolites, activated carbon, molecular sieves, etc., to trap oxygen at high temperatures.

Newer technologies in oxygen generators have been found cost-effective and most apt for today's scenario. It has its disadvantages as compared to Liquid Medical Oxygen presently used in Hospitals. The two main areas where PSA Generators need to be refined are purity and pressure. Liquid Medical oxygen derived from Cryogenic Based Plants is around 99% pure. Liquid oxygen stored in Cryogenic Tanks can be transmitted at higher pressure to oxygenated beds in a medical setup. PSA generators deliver oxygen of about 93% purity and cannot provide oxygen at higher pressures to patients requiring high oxygen flow in the present Covid-19 Pandemic.

Medicine and Medical science are on the cusp of a revolution. Scientists are working round the clock on developing newer vaccines, pharmaceuticals, medical technologies, oxygen plants and helping the doctor fraternity to tide over the present pandemic.

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