Oxygen Concentrators – UPSC Prelims

Oxygen Concentrators:
  • Oxygen Concentrator is a medical device.
  • It filters oxygen from the atmosphere and helps individuals inhale it through a mask or cannula.
How does it work?
  • Atmospheric air has about 78% nitrogen and 21% oxygen with other gases making up the remaining 1%.
  • The concentrator takes in this atmospheric air, filters it through a sieve. Further, it releases the nitrogen back into the air and works on the remaining oxygen.
  • This oxygen compressed and dispensed through a cannula, is 90-95% pure.
  • A pressure valve in concentrators helps regulate supply, ranging from 1-10 litres of oxygen per minute.
How is it different from oxygen cylinders and LMO?
  • The oxygen cylinder gives you a finite amount of oxygen. When the cylinder is empty, it needs to be refilled. Whereas the concentrator pulls oxygen from the air. So it can provide a consistent supply of oxygen, and it only needs a power source to draw in Atmospheric air.
  • Oxygen Concentrators are portable and need no special temperature. On the other hand, Liquid Medical Oxygen(LMO) needs to be stored and transported in cryogenic tankers.
  • Oxygen from Concentrators is not as pure as Liquid Medical Oxygen (LMO) which is a 99% pure oxygen. But it is good enough for mild and moderate Covid-19 patients with oxygen saturation levels of 85% or above. However, it is not advisable for ICU patients.
  • Oxygen concentrators are the easiest alternatives to cylinders but can only supply 5-10 liters of oxygen per minute (critical patients may need 40-50 liters per minute).
  • Oxygen Concentrators are more expensive than Oxygen cylinders. But it is largely a one-time investment. Apart from electricity and routine maintenance, there is a little operational cost. While oxygen cylinders incur refilling and transportation costs.
Scroll to Top