Nitrogen plants, which take air from the atmosphere as raw material, are available across India in various industrial plants and each of them has the potential of being converted to an oxygen generator to tide over the present emergency.
Amid the strain on the country's health infrastructure due to a surge in COVID-19 cases, IIT Bombay has demonstrated a technology for conversion of nitrogen generator to oxygen generator.
An IIT Bombay release said that Prof Milind Atrey, Dean (R&D), who also specialises in cryogenic engineering, took up a pilot project 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).
The release said such nitrogen plants, which take air from the atmosphere as raw material, are available across India in various industrial plants and each of them has the potential of being converted to an oxygen generator to tide over the present emergency.
It said that a PSA nitrogen plant in the Refrigeration and Cryogenics Laboratory at IIT Bombay was identified for conversion to validate the concept. To undertake this study on an urgent basis, an MOU was signed between IIT Bombay, Tata Consulting Engineers and Spantech Engineers to finalise a SOP that may be leveraged across the country.
"The setup for the experiment was developed within three days, and the initial tests have shown promising results. Oxygen production could be achieved at 3.5 atm pressure with a purity level of 93-96 per cent. This gaseous oxygen can be utilised for COVID related needs across existing hospitals and upcoming COVID specific facilities by providing a continuous supply of oxygen," the release said.
Director IIT Bombay Prof Subhasis Chaudhuri congratulated all the involved parties and said that such partnership between academia and industry is highly desirable and essential for the growth and success of the country. He also encouraged the teams to conceptualise innovative ideas and generate indigenous IP that can be leveraged across multiple sectors in meeting the country's needs.