IIT-B tech-hack helps produce Oxygen from Nitrogen plant


Creating a much-needed solution to address the shortage of medical oxygen currently facing India, the IIT-Bombay has come up with a simple tech-hack to convert a Nitrogen Unit to an Oxygen Unit, an official said here on Thursday.

A pilot project has been successfully tested with promising results that can help the country where lakhs of Covid-19 patients in hospitals urgently need oxygen to survive.

The technique involves conversion of Pressure Swing Absorption Nitrogen Unit to PSA Oxygen Unit and oxygen can be produced at 3.5 atm pressure with a purity level of 93-96 percent.

Dean of IIT Bombay Prof Milind Atrey, who led the project team, said this has been possible by fine-tuning the existing nitrogen plant setup and changing the molecular sieves from Carbon to Seolite to get the oxygen.

“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,” Atrey said.

The pilot project was a collaborative effort between IIT Bombay, Tata Consulting Engineers and Spantech Engineers, Mumbai, who deal with PSA Nitrogen and Oxygen plant production.

For this a PSA Nitrogen plant in the Refrigeration and Cryogenics Laboratory of IIT was identified for conversion, to validate the proof of concept.

Besides, a MoU was signed between the collaborating partners to finalise a SOP that can be implemented around the country.

Spantech Engineers installed the required plant components at IIT-B for evaluation using the existing infrastructure at the IIT-B Nitrogen facility, within three days.

“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,” said Amit Sharma, Managing Director of TCE, on the success of the pilot project.

IIT-B Director Prof Subhasis Chaudhuri, Rajendra Tahiliani, Promoter of Spantech Engineers and alumnus IIT-B, Raj Mohan, MD, Spantech Engineers and others have lauded the efforts of the team for their collaboration and partnership on this project.