WHY IN THE NEWS?
A year since the Covid-induced oxygen crisis, most hospitals in Delhi have taken to switching on the PSA plants once a week or for a couple of hours every day to ensure that the machine remains functional.
- High operation and maintenance cost, lower quality of oxygen generated, and fear of antagonising the regular liquid medical oxygen suppliers have kept hospitals from using pressure-swing adsorption (PSA) plants routinely.
- The nursing home cell of the Delhi government asks hospitals to install the plant. The plant might have helped at the peak of the second wave.
WHAT IS PRESSURE SWING ADSORPTION?
- A pressure-swing adsorption plant essentially removes nitrogen, carbon dioxide, and other gases from the ambient air to produce concentrated oxygen.
WHY HOSPITALS ARE FACING PROBLEMS BECAUSE OF PSA?
1) Running the plants is a costly affair:
- Running the PSA plants consumes more electricity than the purchase cost of LMO produced oxygen.
- Example: For Running the PSA plant round the clock, cost of electricity about Rs2.3 lakh. Even though the plant produces 250 litres of oxygen per minute.
2) Extra added cost:
- To store the excess oxygen produced by PSA (as it produces more than required oxygen in the same time frame of LMO), hospitals need to shell out for a machine that can pressurize the oxygen to fill in the cylinders.
3) Noise Pollution:
- Space to set up the plants and the loud noise in industrial areas also work against hospitals utilizing the plants.
4) Specific Work Force Required:
- Hospitals need to retain biomedical engineers for running and maintaining the plant, which adds to the cost of running the plant.
5) Technical challenges with the PSA plants:
- Unlike LMO which is 99% pure oxygen, the purity of the oxygen produced by the PSA plants is about 93% (+/- 3%) that level of purity only after running for 30 to 40 minutes when it produces anywhere between 40% to 60% pure oxygen, which is of no medical use. Thus, a back-up LMO to tide over technical issues needed.
- Even the purest form of oxygen generate by the plant cannot be use for highly oxygen-dependent patients whereas the oxygen from the PSA plant is about 93%, so it needs calibration masks and machines accordingly.
WHY PSA WAS NEEDED?
- The oxygen crisis during the second wave of the pandemic was largely a logistical issue rather than oxygen production.
- The Centre could not anticipate the sudden increase in the need for oxygen
- There is no cryogenic oxygen plant (that separates the other gases from air by cooling it down) for generating liquid medical oxygen within the state border. And tankers carrying oxygen from neighbouring states were being stopped by local administration to ensure adequate supply for their states.
- The LMO allocation for Delhi happened from places like Odisha, Jharkhand, and West Bengal from where there were no existing supply chains to Delhi.
- Even when the oxygen was brought on trains, Delhi did not have enough tankers to decant it and ensure that it reached the hospitals.
Read more: UPSC CURRENT AFFAIRS
SOURCE: INDIAN EXPRESS