I am an Indian, ravaged by the Covid-19 pandemic in my country. I come from a non engineering background (Physics). I was thinking about the following.

If one has an oxygen concentrator, i.e. a device which removes impurities such as N2 and CO2 from air, to release pure oxygen (-93%) using electricity.


It supplies oxygen at the rate of 5 liters / min. Can it be used to fill multiple empty oxygen cylinder, which are basically pressurized oxygen kept in cans. This way, if there are multiple patients suffering from Covid-19, they can be supplied oxygen using the multiple cylinders. Is there any simple and efficient way for one to fill the cylinders with oxygen, bear in mind the cylinders are having oxygen at very high pressure.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I have no words for what you mut be going through right now - I hope we will be able to help, but I'm not sure we can. A lot will depend on the specific type of oxygen concentrator, those used for domestic/aquarium purposes work differently (molecular sieve) from mid size (PSA or VPSA I think) or large size (air liquification). Do you have a specific concentrator in mind? $\endgroup$ – mart Apr 30 at 6:46
  • $\begingroup$ Someone else with the same question: engineering.stackexchange.com/q/42797/10902 $\endgroup$ – Solar Mike Apr 30 at 7:14
  • $\begingroup$ Acutally my question is stupid - i think the question implies 5 l/min oxygen at ambient pressure, now how to compress. Someone with SCUBA experience could probably help. $\endgroup$ – mart Apr 30 at 8:48
  • $\begingroup$ SCUBA generally uses compressed air. If using pure oxygen or oxygen-helium they probably buy it in bigger cylinders or use re-breathers with scrubbers. 5 L/min is a low volume in industrial terms and I suspect that very high pressures are required and some means of removing the heat due to pressurisation will be required. If it was easy your country wouldn't be short of oxygen. $\endgroup$ – Transistor Apr 30 at 18:01
  • $\begingroup$ 5 liters/minute is only enough for one patient (and it fact one patient may require twice as much as that). Attempting to use this device to treat multiple patients is not likely to be successful. $\endgroup$ – alephzero Apr 30 at 18:37

Pressurizing oxygen, especially for medical use requires a purpose built compressor. Other compressors add oil that can damage the lungs and catch fire. Oil-less diaphragm compressors are better, but may be damaged by pure oxygen and are also not rated for medical use. Pressurizing oxygen is not a good DIY project. A different solution to consider is to produce oxygen on-site at low pressure.

A year ago when the US was being hit with the first wave of Covid, I joined the Apollo Oxygen Concentrator project of the Helpful Engineering group (lots of other good Covid projects on there too). They had designed a point-of-use oxygen concentrator. Noise and reliability are additional hurdles, but it avoids having to store the oxygen.

Apollo Oxygen Concentrator Google Docs
Apollo Oxygen Concentrator Software
Apollo Oxygen Concentrator Slack Channel

This oxikit company is a little more commercial, but also worth having a look at.


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