oxygen concentrator

An oxygen concentrator, also known as an "oxygen generator", is a device used to provide oxygen therapy to a patient at substantially higher concentrations than those of ambient air, used as an alternative to tanks of compressed oxygen. Oxygen concentrators are also used to provide an economical source of oxygen in industrial processes.

Since 2000, a number of manufacturers have introduced portable oxygen concentrators. Typically, these produce less than one liter per minute (LPM) of oxygen and use some version of pulse flow or demand flow to deliver oxygen only when the patient is inhaling. However, there is a portable oxygen concentrator with up to 3 LPM of continuous-flow oxygen, and this device also has pulse flow available to either provide higher flows or reduce power consumption. These portable concentrators typically plug into a wall outlet like the larger, heavier stationary concentrators.

Portable oxygen concentrators usually can also be plugged into a vehicle DC adapter, and most have the ability to run from battery power as well for either ambulatory use, or use away from power, or airplane travel. The FAA has approved portable oxygen concentrators for use on commercial airlines, although it is necessary to check in advance if a particular brand or model is permitted on a particular airline.

In both clinical and emergency care situations, oxygen concentrators have the advantage of not being as dangerous as oxygen cylinders, which can, if ruptured or leaking, explosively increase the combustion of a fire. As such, oxygen concentrators are particularly advantageous in military or disaster situations, where oxygen tanks may be dangerous or infeasible. Since oxygen concentrators are considered sufficiently non-volatile, they are leased to individual patients as a prescription item for use in their homes such as an adjunct to CPAP treatment of severe Sleep apnea.

These devices are currently in use by the US military in the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, as part of the equipment complement of forward surgical teams.

Common models retail at around 800USD. Leasing arrangements may be available through various medical supply companies and/or insurance agencies.

Oxygen is one of the more expensive bottled gasses and medical oxygen concentrators or dedicated industrial (non-medical) oxygen concentrators can be made to operate a small oxy-acetylene torch quite easily, if only at small pressures.
Industrial oxygen concentrators are often available in a much wider range of capacities than medical concentrators and are sometimes referred to as oxygen generators within the oxygen and ozone industries to disambiguate from medical oxygen concentrators. The distinction is used in an attempt to clarify that industrial oxygen concentrators that are not FDA-approved medical devices are not suitable for use as bedside medical concentrators.

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