KTM Krankenhaus - Technik & Management
Supplied from the Air
A solution had to be found for the oxygen supply to a newly planned hospital in the inhospitable area of the Zanskar mountain range in the Himalayas. Inmatec Gase Technologie GmbH & Co. KG – based in Herrsching am Ammersee – developed, built and transported this solution there to provide the patients in the distant shores of India with a reliable supply of medical oxygen at all times from the ambient air. However, this task was much more challenging than it sounds.
Everything started when the Indian Ministry of Health and Family Welfare began planning a new district hospital in Kargil. The city is located in a hard-to-access high valley of the Zanskar range in the Himalayan mountains in the western part of the Ladakh region in the Indian state of Jammu, a part of Kashmir that is governed by India. The area is regularly cut off from the rest of the country. Kargil has the reputation of being the second coldest inhabited area in the world after Siberia, with winter temperatures of -48 °C or colder. In addition to this, the area is 2,676 metres above sea level on average and experiences the annual fluctuations of an arctic/desert climate, in which the temperature can rise to up to +35 °C in the summer. In winter, it is normal to see heavy snow fall with up to five metres of snow. There are no cleared roads for supply or transport.
Therefore, oxygen supply through conventional means such as in cylinders or tanks was out of the question. For this reason, the responsible engineers of the Indian administration were looking for a company that specialises in the construction of on-site generators for medical oxygen. The aim was to ensure a regular and continuous supply of oxygen even under these adverse conditions. Responsibility for this challenging task was given to Inmatec Gase Technologie GmbH & Co. KG, a manufacturer and specialist in the generation of medical oxygen.
Construction is one aspect, transport is another
After the construction of the model PO 3450 oxygen generator with an output of 33 Nm3/h with a purity of 95 percent was completed in Germany, the journey began. The first delivery attempt stopped just short of the destination with five metres' worth of snow on the ground. In the end, however, the system was successfully delivered and installed. Nevertheless, more visits were required after this to handle all of the aspects of this huge ecological and logistical challenge. The system feeds the oxygen directly into the gas network of the hospital and also fills cylinders as a back-up stock. These cylinders are also required by ambulances and for areas that are even more remote. Because oxygen generators use air as a raw material, the biggest obstacles come from the thin air combined with the hot and cold temperatures. These obstacles are overcome through the use of special components, for example, the zeolite activated carbon molecular sieve, an adsorbent from Inmatec, whose composition is the result of in-house research and development.
In addition to a standard oxygen production system for industrial applications, Inmatec designed and developed the IMT PO OnTouch Med series specifically for the supply of oxygen in medical facilities. As a result of this, the system confirms to international regulations for oxygen production in the medical sector. The system is based on the pressure swing adsorption (PSA) process. Inmatec has used this technology for the production of nitrogen or oxygen in its machines and systems for many years. It is based on the adsorption principle. The nitrogen and oxygen molecules that flow in with the air (compressed air) are separated by a zeolite molecular sieve. The nitrogen molecules adheres to the zeolite (adsorption), while the oxygen molecules are allowed to pass through. At the end of an interval (pressure swing cycle) you get pure oxygen. As the air flow back through, the inert gases and the nitrogen escape through the absorbing duct. In the downstream tank, the high-purity oxygen is collected and available for subsequent use.
Use of oxygen in hospitals or clinics
The oxygen, which is produced by the on-site oxygen generator in India through cleaning of the ambient air with zeolite and features a minimum purity level of 93 percent, can be routed to patients' rooms and operating theatres or can be stored in cylinders via a compressor. The system manufacturer also offers an online service, which it can use to access its systems through a remote monitoring box. This makes it possible to monitor the function of the system and access it from Germany, if required.