MUMBAI: Amid a surge in the demand for supplemental oxygen during the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, a Pune-based engineering firm has developed a do-it-yourself (DIY) design for an oxygen concentrator by tweaking open-source resources to Indian conditions.
Oxygen concentrators hired or purchased for home installation by coronavirus patients' families at present are mostly made by foreign companies.
The government has a duty waiver on these machines given their importance in saving lives.
Karan Tarade, director of Anashwar Technologies, said oxygen concentrators, invented in the 1970s, aid in a patient's breathing by concentrating ambient oxygen available in the air.
"We began by meeting doctors and medical equipment experts. Our company engineers found an open-source design called 'Oxykit' on the internet whose output oxygen levels were good, but trials showed us that the design was not suitable for Indian atmospheric conditions and high humidity," Tarade said.
"We have made some necessary changes in the design like the use of silica gel for moisture separation and parallel compressors design to come up with an indigenous oxygen concentrator," he said, speaking of the new design.
The company has also made an oxygen analyser, an important device which is very expensive and mostly out of reach of many, he said.
The design was developed using YouTube videos and a Github repository, he added.
"This whole project was developed in India, by Indians for Indians we are trying hard to make the design simple and as cheap as possible so that anyone with basic knowledge of tools would be able to do it," he said.
The company has developed a design for a 'do it yourself' 15 litres per minute (LPM) oxygen concentrator, and is also working on a 20 LPM model which will deliver over 90 percent purity, he said, adding that the new machine will be a smart oxygen analyser which senses the oxygen levels in a patient and controls the oxygen flow and purity in real-time.
"Every human being is facing problems due to the pandemic, so we felt that instead of keeping this technology to ourselves, let us make it open for everyone," Tarade said.
Tarade, a mechanical engineer, had won the first prize in the 'Smart India Hackathon' promoted by the Niti Ayyog in 2018, for his ultra-portable water disinfectant system project and will be working on presenting a paper on the design and implementation of the oxygen concentrator.