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Certain medical procedures require that the patient be given the maximum dose of oxygen which is difficult to achieve with the air naturally present around us due to its low percentage of oxygen. Thus to adhere to this need, Nitrogen must be separated from the Oxygen and also, the oxygen levels must be increased. This cannot be fulfilled without a medical device – hence, an oxygen concentrator.
The air that goes into the machine is usually around 70-80% nitrogen and about 20-30% oxygen. The air that comes out of the machine after processing would typically be more than 90% of oxygen and only about 10% nitrogen. Below are the step by step details of how an oxygen concentrator works.
Out of the many parts of the device, a compressor and sieve bed filter are one among the main ones. Like the name suggests, the compressor compresses the air that is filtered into the concentrator, then a stable, continuous stream of air is delivered.
This stream of air then enters the sieve bed filters which are involved in removing the nitrogen from the air. Precisely, the sieve bed consists of Zeolite, a material which is a 6-sided microscopic cube (with holes on each side), which is responsible to remove the nitrogen from air.
Two sieve beds are located in the concentrator. After air is first compressed in the concentrator, it is forced into the first sieve bed. Oxygen is sent into the product tank. The first sieve bed then gets filled up with nitrogen. Next, the gas flow is switched, and the compressed air is moved to the second sieve bed. The first sieve bed?s compressor is sent to the outside room, and the air from the product tank goes back into the first sieve bed.
The drop in pressure from the first sieve bed and the weakening of oxygen makes the Zeolite release nitrogen. The Oxygen and Nitrogen come back together and are released in the room as regular air. The air is then compressed and sent to the second sieve where Oxygen is moved through it to the Product Tank. The whole cycle starts over again with the first sieve after a few seconds.
There are usually 2 settings for purification – the pulse mode for daytime and the continuous flow most suitable to be used while sleeping. While the pulse mode delivers via the cannula during inhalation, the continuous flow delivers via tubes.
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