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Centre identifies 30 nitrogen plants to produce medical oxygen

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New Delhi, May 1 (IANS): The Centre has identified 30 nitrogen generation plants for production of medical oxygen considering Covid-19 pandemic situation and to further augment availability of oxygen for medical purposes in the country.

“About 30 industries have been identified, and efforts have begun to modify nitrogen plants for the production of medical oxygen,” said Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.

“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.”

UPL Ltd converted one 50 Nm3 per hour capacity Nitrogen plant to produce oxygen using Zeolite Molecular Sieve, and installed it at L.G. Rotary Hospital, Vapi (Gujarat). This plant is producing 0.5 ton per 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.

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

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.

Oxygen produced in on-site plants has to be compressed and filled in cylinders or special vessels using high pressure compressor for transporting to hospitals.

Facilitation is being provided to these industries for completion of work at the earliest.

The Centre had earlier asked the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), which has comprehensive data base of industrial units, to identify the industries having spare nitrogen plants and explore the feasibility of converting of existing nitrogen plants to produce oxygen.

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

In this regard, consultation have been held with potential industrial units and experts.

The Centre’s step comes as India has been hit by a devastating wave of Covid infections – daily new cases crossed the four-lakh mark this morning for a record global high. The surge in cases has left hospitals overworked, doctors traumatised, and resources like beds, medicines and oxygen in perilously short supply.

The scale of the crisis has prompted the global community to step in, with oxygen concentrators, tankers and other equipment being flown in by the United States, the United Kingdom, Singapore, the European Union and other countries.

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