Amid the rise of COVID infection, the dearth of oxygen supplies across the nation has emerged as a major concern.
In a novel achievement, IIT Bombay has developed a simple tech hack that can convert a nitrogen plant to an oxygen generating unit, an official said here on Thursday. This opens up an avenue that can single-handedly address the acute shortage of medical-grade oxygen across the country, amid the pandemic hour. The success of this pilot project has not only manufactured the lifesaving gas but also hope among lakhs of affected people, in times of dread and despair.
Necessity is the mother of invention!
The pilot conversion project was a collaborative effort of IIT Bombay and Tata Consulting Engineers and Spantech Engineers, Mumbai. While the premier engineering institute was the brain behind this run, the resources were provided by the fellow partner, who deals with PSA nitrogen and oxygen plant production, pivotal to the translation.
The Spantech Engineers installed the required plant components at the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, for evaluation using the existing infrastructure at the institute's nitrogen facility. The entire process was completed within 3 days, paving way for the project to be a hit. The technique is simple and involves the conversion of Pressure Swing Absorption nitrogen unit to PSA oxygen unit and consequently, LMO can be produced at 3.5 atm pressure with a purity level of 93-96%.
To further validate the proof of this concept, a PSA nitrogen plant in the Refrigeration and Cryogenics Laboratory of IIT, was identified for conversion. Its success instils hope for heightened LMO production in India to solve its shortage, in the backdrop of a ferocious pandemic.
A partnership to beat the pandemic
Lead by the Dean of IIT Bombai, Professor Milind Atrey, the project team has confirmed that fine-tuning the existing nitrogen plant setup and altering their molecular sieves from carbon to zeolite can produce oxygen. "Such nitrogen plants, which take air from the atmosphere as raw material, are available in various industrial plants across India. Therefore, each of them could potentially be converted into an oxygen generator," Atrey further said.
"We are delighted to partner with IIT Bombay and Spantech Engineers, and contribute towards an innovative solution for emergency oxygen generation using existing infrastructure towards helping the country tide over the current crisis," said Amit Sharma, Managing Director of TCE, on the success of the pilot project.
IIT-B Director Prof Subhasis Chaudhuri, Rajendra Tahiliani, Promoter of Spantech Engineers and alumnus IIT-B, Raj Mohan, MD, Spantech Engineers and others have lauded the efforts of the team for their efforts and partnership on this project.
-With inputs from IANS