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Friday 11 June 2021

The Oxygen Strategy- An Inclusive Growth Framework

Prof. Harish Hirani, 
Director, CSIR-CMERI

The Motivation

Oxygen Supplies have been marring the entire National Landscape since the advent of the COVID-19 Second Wave in March 2021. One of the major projected obstacles for the seamless flow of Oxygen across the Healthcare Facilities is the associated heavily complicated Oxygen Transportation Logistics i.e. Specialized Cryogenic Tanks, which besides being not available off-the-shelf also requires intensive Capital inputs. Besides, people were also forced to buy spurious Oxygen Concentrators lacking Reliability and Trustworthiness in terms of durability, endurance and performance.

In this scenario, it was felt that there is a need for Science & Technology to pitch-in and evolve Socio-Techno-Economic Model which primarily tries to achieve the following goals:

  • Decentralized Generation of Oxygen which is sans the Capital-intensive and Complicated Oxygen Delivery Logistics. The Decentralized Oxygen Generation model also ensures that there is a more democratic and widespread network of Oxygen Generation hubs across the Nation.
  • The in-situ Oxygen Generation Model would help in Localized Enriching of Oxygen and thus involve and engage the local communities in concentrating and managing this invaluable Medical Intervention resource.
  • Involving a Wider Community Participation in the Implementation Strategy- That pools together the Innovators, Business Entities, Healthcare Professionals, Financial Institutions and the Community.
  • Engaging the MSMEs for the development of a robust Economic Model and better outreach to the targeted areas. Besides, the motive was also to empower the MSMEs through interactive Virtual Sessions with proper Technical Training, comprehensive Exchange of Knowledge and Learning interactions. 

The Technology

The CSIR-CMERI Oxygen Enrichment Unit is an in-situ Oxygen Technology, which concentrates Oxygen from the ambient air using the Pressure Swing Adsorption Methodology (Fig. 1). The Oxygen Enrichment Unit has essentially two modules i.e. Compressor Unit and Oxygen Concentration Unit. The modular design has the added advantage of flexibility of placement of the product in a multi-bedded scenario. The CSIR-CMERI Technology has multiple competitive advantages in terms of Performance, Efficiency and Endurance.

Figure 1

Technology for Optimised Dosage of Oxygen through Advanced Technologies- A veritable answer to the Oxygen Short Supply

In addition, as per Scientific Reports our Inhalation process consumes only 1/3rd time of a Single Respiratory Cycle and the rest 2/3rd time is consumed for the process of exhalation. However, as a regular practice Oxygen is continuously administered to a patient. Thus, it can be logically concluded that almost 30-40% of the Oxygen is wasted in the process. This process of wastage can be appropriately controlled through appropriate technology interventions such as Advanced Pulse Dosage mechanism, which will be based upon timely dosage of Oxygen and will be sensed through appropriate Respiratory sensors. We are happy to inform that CSIR-CMERI is working upon the development of this Technology.

Advanced Oxygen Administering Systems

As per available Medical Journals, the usage of Nasal Cannula without Masks leads to significant transmission of Viral Load to nearby attendants. Even covered Oxygen Masks might lead to leakage of Viral Load through the small perforations on the sides of the masks, though in a much reduced level. Thus wearing N95 masks on top of the Nasal Cannula might contain this leakage to a certain extent; however, N95 masks might hinder the normal breathing process.

In this context, we are focused upon the development of Oxygen Delivery using appropriate NIV Masks/Hoods which would have separate inhaling and exhaling channels. The exhaling channel would be equipped with an efficient Viral/Bacterial Filter for trapping any transmission. (Fig 2&3)This would be extremely helpful in enclosed spaces such as Isolation Wards. The Oxygen dosage would be based upon the Respiratory sensors to ensure appropriate quantities of Oxygen is delivered as per need. The exhaled air would also be analyzed for Oxygen and the same would be reutilized for Oxygen generation, which would be again reused. 

Figure 2
Figure 3

With the onset of the COVID first and second wave, it has been observed that the larger Medical Establishments has bearing most of the load for COVID treatment. This situation has led to larger Medical Establishments being over-burdened. 

There is a need of developing Oxygen Enrichment Capacity of 100 LPM which can supply Oxygen for 10-bedded facilities (Up to 10 LPM for each bed). This is possible owing to the fact that the Compressor Unit and the Concentration Units are separate. Thus, this enables the entire system to function with a Single Compressor. The Oxygen Enrichment Unit would be located on the bedside and the FiO2 control would be optional. (Fig. 4.)

Figure 4

Existing Hospital Infrastructure

There was a huge ramping up of the Oxygen Plants during the recent COVID surges. Many Medical Establishments either boosted or setup Oxygen Plants in their facilities which may not be affordable for Small or Rural Hospitals. Thus, another Concept is also being worked upon whereby the Hybrid Version of the Advanced Oxygen Enrichment Technology will have the added advantage of being able to function along with Hospital Oxygen/Oxygen Cylinders for Intelligent Switching and Interventions in a variable manner. This technology will help in complementing Oxygen shortfalls, when the situation so arises.

Partnering with MSMEs for an Inclusive Business Model

Figure 5
Resilient growth and establishing Economic Stability are two primary objectives of the efforts of CSIR-CMERI. In lieu with this philosophical framework, CSIR-CMERI at the very advent of the Technology has been making efforts to partner with the MSMEs to proliferate the product in the Healthcare Fraternity. In this context, CSIR-CMERI joined hands with the MSME-Development Institutes across the Nation and organized a total of 20 Webinars and 15 of these Webinars were in association with the MSME-DIs, thereby benefitting thousands of Entrepreneurs, Micro and Small Businesses, Start-Ups and Business Association. Five Webinars on CSIR-CMERI Oxygen Technology were also organized by Professional Organizations. These Virtual Interactive Platforms provided an avenue for the exchange of Technical Knowledge Exchange. Owing to the widespread Vendor Network Database available with the Procurement Wing of the Institute and Information as garnered from the various business networks, CSIR-CMERI was also able to provide Raw Materials Sourcing Assistance and Virtual Hand Holding Sessions to the MSMEs until their first Prototype was available. Steadily the technology has been transferred to 13 MSMEs across the Nation. (Fig. 5)

Figure 6
The details of setting up a Manufacturing Plant for the CSIR-CMERI Oxygen Technology are illustrated in Fig. 6.

What will be the Business Prospects of the Technology Post-COVID?

To address the future viability of manufacturing Oxygen Products, it was informed the MSMEs that Oxygen Therapy will be relevant even in the days to come, since it is used as a Non-Invasive Therapy for faster Wound Healing, Cell Repair and self-healing of organs. The technology also has tremendous potential for applications in the domains of high-altitude defense as well as in places with high-altitude having significant tourist footfalls where it can be used as Oxygen Rejuvenation Hubs for fatigued tourists. The Anti-Microbial properties of Oxygen have significant regenerative capabilities and thus numerous other Medical applications. This multitude of application in diverse fields implies that the CSIR-CMERI developed Oxygen Enrichment Technology will remain Economically Viable as a business prospect for the MSMEs.

Future Strategy

Further R&D in this direction has led to explore possibilities of improving the versatility of the product through applications in numerous scenarios. A need was steadily felt for further improvising the technology through value-additions, which would expand its usability and multiply its effectiveness. The Advanced Oxygen Enrichment Unit is being developed having Independent Controls for Oxygen Enrichment (FiO2) and Flow Rate.  It can be equipped with SPO2 sensor and C-PAP with an estimated capacity of 15 LPM of enriched Oxygenated Air (93+3%). The Prototype experiments have been showing encouraging results and might soon see the light of the day.

List of Business Associations and Institutes CSIR-CMERI partnered with for Awareness Generation of the Business Entities (Fig. 7a-7c):

  1. MSME-Development Institute, Raipur- 25.04.2021
  2. MSME-Development Institute, Ahmedabad-29.04.2021
  3. MSME-Development Institute, Cuttack-30.04.2021
  4. MSME-Development Institute, Indore-30.04.2021
  5. MSME-Development Institute, Varanasi-03.05.2021
  6. MSME-Development Institute, Jaipur- 04.05.2021
  7. MSME-Development Institute, Karnal, Haryana-05.05.2021
  8. MSME-Development Institute, Ranchi-07.05.2021
  9. MSME-Development Institute, Thrissur-11.05.2021
  10. MSME-Development Institute, Durgapur-14.05.2021
  11. MSME-Development Institute, Ahmedabad-24.05.2021
  12. MSME-Development Institute, Ranchi-25.05.2021
  13. MSME-Development Institute, Mumbai & Aurangabad-27.05.2021
  14. MSME-Development Institute, Indore-31.05.2021
  15. MSME-Development Institute, Jammu & Kashmir-04.06.2021

Professional Organizations (Fig. 7):

  1. PHD Chamber of Commerce & Industry, New Delhi- 18.05.2021
  2. ASSOCHAM, East and North East-19.05.2021
  3. Indian Medical Association, Tamil Nadu-29.05.2021
  4. FICCI Kerala State Council-01.06.2021
  5. SIDBI, Assam- 02.06.2021

Figure 7a
Figure 7b
Figure 7c

The massive MSME Outreach and Awareness Exercise conducted by CSIR-CMERI have resulted in 13 MSMEs across the Nation being handed the Know-How of this indigenously developed Technology. Out of these 13 MSMEs few have already developed Prototype and it has been rolled out to the markets.

The CSIR-CMERI Oxygen Enrichment Technology has received tremendous response from both the MSMEs and the Media Houses across the Nation. Some of the media coverage by prominent Media houses are mentioned (Fig. 8):

Figure 8

To Learn further about the Technology Click the Link below and Contact:

Dr. Anjali Chatterjee
Head, Department of Business, Innovation and Skills
CSIR-CMERI, Durgapur
Phone:  9434720494