To help support the ongoing oxygen shortage in India, the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay has converted a nitrogen plant setup into an oxygen generator.

Sharing the news on Thursday (29th April), IIT said the converted unit can produce oxygen suitable for Covid-related needs across India’s health care sector.

Initial tests have shown promising results. According to a statement, oxygen production could be achieved at 3.5 atm pressure, with a purity level of 93-96%.

Prof. Milind Atrey, Dean (R&D), IIT Bombay, who led the project, has said the conversion is a result of fine-tuning the existing nitrogen plant setup and by changing the molecular sieves from carbon to zeolite.

“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, thus helping us tide over the current public health emergency,” he added.

The pilot project is a collaborative effort between IIT Bombay, Tata Consulting Engineers and Spantech Engineers, Mumbai, who deal with PSA nitrogen and oxygen plant production.

To undertake the study on an urgent basis, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between IIT Bombay, Tata Consulting Engineers and Spantech Engineers to finalise a standard operating procedure (SOP) that may be leveraged across the country.

Spantech Engineers installed the required plant components as a skid at IIT Bombay for evaluation using IIT Bombay’s infrastructure at the IITB Nitrogen facility at the Refrigeration and Cryogenics lab.

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Source: Indian Institute of Technology Bombay

Congratulating the teams on the successful pilot, Amit Sharma, Managing Director of Tata Consulting Engineer, 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.”