To address the massive shortage of medical oxygen currently being witnessed by the country amid rising coronavirus cases, the Indian Institute of Technology- Bombay (IIT-B) has come up with an innovative method that converts nitrogen plants into oxygen generating units.
The institute in an official statement has said that Milind Atrey, professor and dean (R&D), who specialises in Cryogenic Engineering, has taken up a pilot project with Tata Consulting Engineers (TCE) to convert existing nitrogen plants into oxygen plants.
The process relies on a simple technological intervention of converting a pressure swing adsorption (PSA) nitrogen unit into a PSA oxygen unit. The oxygen generated was found to be 93-96 per cent pure and at 3.5 atmospheric pressure.
"It (conversion of nitrogen unit into an oxygen unit) has been done by fine-tuning the existing nitrogen plant setup and changing the molecular sieves from Carbon to Zeolite," the statement said.
Professor Atrey said such nitrogen plants, which take air from the atmosphere as raw material, are available in various industrial plants across India and hence can be utilised during the existing crisis to save lives.
"Therefore, each of them could potentially be converted into an oxygen generator, thus helping us tide over the current public health emergency," it added.
Reports state that Mumbai-based Spantech Engineers that deal with PSA nitrogen and oxygen production installed the required components for the test in the lab in three days.
The institute has requested various government authorities, non-governmental organisations, NGOs, and private companies to contact Atrey and Tata Consulting Engineers to enable the rapid adoption of this technology across the country.