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Considering the requirement of medical oxygen amidst the COVID-19 pandemic situation, the Government of India has explored the feasibility of conversion of existing nitrogen plants to produce oxygen. Various such potential industries, wherein existing nitrogen plants may be spared for production of oxygen were identified, PMO said.

The process of converting the existing Pressure Swing Absorption (PSA) nitrogen plants for production of oxygen was discussed, the Prime Minister's Office said. In the nitrogen plants Carbon Molecular Sieve (CMS) is used whereas Zeolite Molecular Sieve (ZMS) is required for producing oxygen. Therefore, by replacing CMS with ZMS and carrying out few other changes such as oxygen analyzer, control panel system, flow valves etc. existing nitrogen plants can be modified to produce oxygen.

On deliberation with the industries, so far 14 industries have been identified where conversion of plants is under progress. Further 37 Nitrogen plants have been also identified with the help of industry associations, it added.

A nitrogen plant modified for the production of oxygen can be either shifted to a nearby hospital or, in case it is not feasible to shift the plant, it can be used for on-site production of oxygen, which can be be transported to hospital through specialized vessels/cylinders.

Recently, the Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay (IIT-B) set up a demonstration unit to convert nitrogen generators, which are found in all parts of India, into oxygen generators by fine-tuning the existing nitrogen plant set up.

An IIT Bombay had release said that a pilot project was taken up to evaluate the conversion of PSA (Pressure Swing Adsorption) nitrogen unit to PSA oxygen unit by fine-tuning the existing nitrogen plant setup and changing the molecular sieves from carbon to zeolite. The project was taken up in collaboration with Tata Consulting Engineers Limited (TCE).

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