A modified plant can be set up in 4-5 days while installing a new oxygen plant may take 3-4 weeks

Industries having spare nitrogen plants are converting them to produce medical-grade oxygen as India races against time to arrange adequate life-saving supply during the raging Covid-19 pandemic.

The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and State Pollution Control Boards (SPCBs) have identified 30 such potential industries, wherein existing nitrogen generation plants may be spared for production of oxygen.

Some of these plants can be shifted to nearby hospitals for supplying oxygen and some plants, where it is not feasible to shift the plants, can produce oxygen on-site.

Consultations have been held with potential industrial units and experts, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change said on Saturday, adding that efforts have begun to modify nitrogen plants for the production of medical oxygen.

According be a statement issued by the ministry, M/s UPL Ltd converted one 50 Nm3/hr capacity Nitrogen plantto produce oxygen using Zeolite Molecular Sieve, and installed it at L G Rotary Hospital, Vapi (Gujarat).

This plant is producing 0.5 ton/day oxygen and is operational since April 27.

UPL Ltd. is also under process of conversion of three more plants. On conversion to oxygen plants, these plants will be installed at hospitals in Surat and Ankaleshwar in Gujarat.

Oxygen for medical use can be produced in the existing nitrogen plants by replacing Carbon Molecular Sieve (CMS) with Zeolite Molecular Sieve (ZMS) and making a few other changes such as installation of oxygen analyzer, change in control panel system, flow valves.

"With the availability of ZMS, such modified plant can be set-up in 4-5 days while installation of new oxygen plant may take minimum 3-4 weeks," the statement pointed out.

The process involves compressing the oxygen produced in on-site plants and filling it in cylinders and special vessels for transporting to hospitals. Facilitation is being provided to these industries for completion of work at the earliest.