Steelhead Composites has made a manufacturing pivot to produce medical-grade oxygen storage containers which will be available later this month.

Source: Steelhead Composites

Steelhead manufactures lightweight, high volume, high pressure composite storage vessels for compressed gas storage and transport in the automotive, aerospace, energy, marine markets.

Now the Colorado, US-based company is also serving the medical market.

Steelhead has taken their pressure vessel expertise and manufacturing capabilities to produce medical-grade oxygen cylinders to help address the demand created by the global coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

As the virus spread, the company’s management quickly mobilised resources to ready the Golden, Colorado facility to produce medical-grade oxygen storage containers. With added cleaning capabilities, Steelhead can now clean cylinders to medical oxygen standards.

Steelhead’s largest off-the-shelf vessels hold 94 standard kilolitres of oxygen. At 10 litres per minute (heightened levels) of oxygen consumption, one vessel can support delivering pressurised oxygen for 160 hours, according to Steelhead.

With the higher volume at a fraction of the weight, Steelhead says these vessels are a good solution for transporting oxygen to areas with limited existing oxygen infrastructure.

Manifolded together on a trailer, these vessels could be centrally filled and delivered to provide oxygen therapy to a large number of patients simultaneously.

Steelhead cleaned their first vessels in-house in April and are in the process of obtaining independent verification by a third party certifying all standards have been met. Steelhead oxygen cylinders should be commercially available at the end of May.

Leslie Smith, Director of Health and Medical Affairs at Steelhead, told gasworld, “More than a manufacturing pivot, Steelhead has extended an existing product line into a new industry. Steelhead’s existing customers demand that products are cleaned to high standards, but not medical oxygen standards. In response to Covid-19, Steelhead purchased and installed new cleaning equipment and implemented new cleaning processes/procedures for existing products to be safely used in the medical field for oxygen therapy or ventilation.

“While medical grade cleaning is a new field for Steelhead, we are experts in compressed gas storage and transport. With the increased emphasis on hydrogen as an energy carrier for decarbonisation via zero-emission vehicles or power generation, Steelhead has been active in providing storage solutions. Steelhead has a legacy in manufacturing and testing safe, lightweight, reliable hydrogen storage vessels. In the current crisis, Steelhead is able to quickly take this technology and translate it into storing large amounts of compressed oxygen.”

In addition to adding medical oxygen cylinders to the product line-up, Steelhead took its aerospace quality system and manufacturing capabilities and introduced a Mobile Oxygen and Power Solution for Covid-19. A swappable trailer system, consisting of medical grade oxygen tanks and certified, lightweight, hydrogen cylinders, can be used to provide medical grade oxygen and power via fuel cell technology for clean, zero-emission, and reliable power. Steelhead believes this innovation represents a leap forward in the realisation of equitable, affordable and sustainable healthcare to protect the most at-risk or remote populations, particularly in developing countries.

“Steelhead’s innovative spirit hopes to go beyond existing hospital infrastructure and address needs where there are fewer resources available to Covid-19 patients,” Smith added.

“This includes temporary medical facilities, rural communities, long-term care facilities, correctional institutions and countries in Africa and South Asia, where oxygen and power resources are least available. Steelhead’s Mobile Oxygen and Power Solution has global reach and will boost any country’s capacity to prepare and respond to Covid-19 or any future medical crisis. Providing essential and sustainable medical equipment to frontline healthcare providers will strengthen health infrastructures for long term capacity, saving lives now and in the future. After years of not prioritising oxygen supplies, Africa and lesser developed countries are incredibly vulnerable to this pandemic. Steelhead’s goal is to identify the greatest need and collaborate across borders to get this essential life-saving technology to medical facilities across the globe.

“The most important part of contributing to the rapid Steelhead manufacturing pivot is an opportunity to save lives. Longer term, this addition establishes capabilities that we can bring to other markets.”