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Mumbai: IIT-B’s O2 generator model gets 1,000 queries in a week

A week after the Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay ((IIT-B), set up a demonstration unit converting nitrogen generators into oxygen generators, the institute has been receiving requests from policymakers, industry and hospitals for adopting the technology
By Priyanka Sahoo, Mumbai
PUBLISHED ON MAY 07, 2021 12:43 AM IST

A week after the Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay ((IIT-B), set up a demonstration unit converting nitrogen generators into oxygen generators, the institute has been receiving requests from policymakers, industry and hospitals for adopting the technology.

So far the institute, along with its industry partner Tata Consulting Engineers Limited (TCE), has received over 1,000 inquiries from across the country for implementing the technology to beat the severe oxygen shortage for Covid-19 patients.

On April 29, IIT-B and TCE demonstrated a simple method of converting nitrogen generators, which are found in all parts of India, into oxygen generators by fine-tuning the existing nitrogen plant set up. Milind Atrey, institute chair professor, department of Mechanical Engineering, IIT-B, along with TCE demonstrated a proof of concept using a model nitrogen plant available on campus.

“Along with TCE, we have set up a helpline for helping people use this technology in an existing nitrogen plant. The helpline has been flooded since the announcements We’ve received interest from government bodies, hospitals and even industry bodies that want to convert an existing nitrogen plant into oxygen generators. We are providing handholding support for easy adoption of the technology,” said Atrey, who is also the dean, research and development of IIT-B.

The institute has made all technical specifications available in the public domain. “Those interested can write to us at tceconnect@tce.co.in,” Atrey added.

Nitrogen generation plants, which take in air from the atmosphere and separate oxygen and nitrogen to give out liquid nitrogen, can be found in various industries such as oil and gas, food and beverages. Nitrogen is dry in nature and is used commonly for purging and cleaning oil and gas tankers.

Most nitrogen plants work on pressure swing adsorption (PSA) technology, where air from the atmosphere is sucked in, filtered of impurities and nitrogen is extracted. The team has proposed to switch the filter used for nitrogen extraction in the PSA unit with one that can extract oxygen instead.

The team replaced the carbon molecular sieves, used in nitrogen plants, with zeolite molecular sieves in the PSA nitrogen plant in the Refrigeration and Cryogenics Laboratory of IIT-B. Zeolite molecular sieves are used for separating oxygen from the air. By controlling the flow rates of the containers, the researchers were able to convert the nitrogen plant on campus into an oxygen generating plant. Spantech Engineers, a city-based company that deals with PSA nitrogen and oxygen plant production, partnered on this pilot project and installed the required plant components as a skid at IIT-B for evaluation.

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