The Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, has stepped in to offer a quick and simple solution to the oxygen crisis. The institute, in collaboration with Tata Consulting Engineers Ltd, has successfully carried out a pilot project to convert nitrogen generator plants into oxygen generators, simply by replacing the molecular filters.
Conversion of existing nitrogen plants will take only around three to four days, unlike setting up a new oxygen plant for medical use that could take at least 45 days. And, these pressure swing adsorption nitrogen plants are available in abundance in industrial units across the country. Conversion of a decent-sized nitrogen plant will cost around10-15% of the total cost of setting up a new oxygen plant.
While the institute has validated the proof of the concept, the technology needs to be scaled up at multiple locations to help the country tide over the current emergency. An MoU was signed between IIT, TCE and Spantech Engineers (which deals with PSA nitrogen and oxygen plants) to finalise a standard operating procedure to scale up the technology.
The technology is proven and has been in use since the 1970s, said Amit Sharma, managing director, TCE.