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  • How Does an Oxygen Concentrator Work ?

An oxygen concentrator is a device which concentrates the oxygen from a gas supply (typically ambient air) to supply an oxygen-enriched gas stream.

What Is an Oxygen Concentrator ?

An oxygen concentrator (also sometimes called “oxygen generator”) is a medical device used to deliver oxygen to those who require it. People may require it if they have a condition that causes or results in low levels of oxygen in their blood. These oxygen concentrators are normally obtained via prescription and therefore cannot be purchased over the counter.

Oxygen concentrators are powered by plugging in to an electrical outlet or by battery. If the concentrator is powered by an electric battery, that battery will need to be charged by plugging into an outlet. Several parts make up a concentrator, including a compressor, sieve bed filter, and circuit boards.

An oxygen concentrator has a compressing element, but it should not be confused with compressed oxygen or an oxygen tank. Whereas a tank has a set amount of oxygen that it dispenses, a concentrator filters in air, compresses it, and delivers air continuously. The air supply will never run out. Instead of refilling compressed air, the concentrator just needs access to power.

How Does an Oxygen Concentrator Work?

An oxygen concentrator works much like a window air conditioning unit: it takes in air, modifies it and delivers it in a new form. An oxygen concentrator takes in air and purifies it for use by people requiring medical oxygen due to low oxygen levels in their blood.

It works by:

  • Taking in air from its surroundings
  • Compressing air, while the cooling mechanism keeps the concentrator from overheating
  • Removing nitrogen from the air via filter and sieve beds
  • Adjusting delivery settings with an electronic interface
  • Delivering the purified oxygen via a nasal cannula or mask

Types of oxygen concentrators

There are two types of oxygen concentrators: home and portable. As the name suggests, the home devices use the electricity supply available from the patient’s home. It simply plugs into a wall socket.

Home concentrators are designed to be mobile throughout the patient’s home, so it is required to be heavier — many models average from 30-53 pounds — and are supplied with casters for easy from room to room maneuverability. It can even move outdoors if it has a longer tube supply.

Portable concentrators also plug into wall sockets, but their usage goes beyond that. Extremely lightweight, they can also be plugged into car 12V D/C cigarette lighters or operate through the use of a lithium-ion battery. Not to mention, most portable oxygen concentrators are FAA approved and can be brought trains, buses, and cruise ships.

The future of portable oxygen therapy.

The next decade promises to be an exciting period for oxygen therapy. We can expect to see the size and portability of oxygen devices improve as well as having them come down in cost. As new battery technologies are adopted you will be able to travel for longer periods between charges.

We still believe that prevention is better then treatment, as most cases of COPD are caused by environmental or lifestyle factors identifying and addressing these first should be the priority for those in high risk.


How Does an Oxygen Concentrator Work ?

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