How does an oxygen concentrator work?
An oxygen concentrator is a medical device that concentrates oxygen from the surrounding environment. Atmospheric air contains about 78% nitrogen and 21% oxygen, with the remaining 1% made up of other gases.
The oxygen concentrator sucks this air, filters it through a sieve, releases the nitrogen, and works on the remaining oxygen.
This oxygen, compressed and delivered by cannula, is 90-95 per cent pure. In concentrators, a pressure valve helps control supply, ranging from 1 to 10 litres per minute.
According to a 2015 WHO study, concentrators are equipped for continuous operation and can deliver oxygen 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for up to five years.
Is the oxygen from concentrators clean enough at 90-95 per cent purity?
While it is not as pure as LMO (99 per cent), experts agree it is adequate for mild to moderate Covid-19 patients with 85% or higher oxygen saturation levels. It is, however, not recommended for ICU patients.
Concentrators may be connected to several tubes to accommodate two patients simultaneously, although doctors do not recommend this due to the possibility of cross-infection.
How do concentrators differ from oxygen cylinders and LMO?
Oxygen concentrators are the most convenient alternative to tanks. Still, they only produce 5-10 litres of oxygen per minute (critical patients may require 40-50 litres per minute) and are ideal for moderately sick patients.
Concentrators are compact and, unlike LMO, which must be packed and shipped in cryogenic tankers, do not require a specific temperature. Moreover, unlike cylinders, concentrators only need a power source to suck in surrounding air.