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Groote Schuur anaesthesiologist explains how medical oxygen is made

17 January 2021 9:05 AM
Tags:
Covid-19 patient
oxygen supply
medical oxygen

Dr. Ross Hofmeyr, an anaesthesiologist at Groote Schuur Hospital, explains how medical oxygen is made.

Hofmeyr, who's also an Associate Professor of Anaesthesiology at the University of Cape Town (UCT) chats to CapeTalk host John Maytham about the process.

"Most hospitals use bulk oxygen storage in the form of liquid oxygen", he explains.

The most common source of medical oxygen is through fractional distillation of the atmospheric air. Our atmosphere contains just shy of 21% or about one-fifth of oxygen surroundign us.

Ross Hofmeyr, Associate Professor - Department of Anaesthesia & Perioperative Medicine (UCT)

Large oxygen producers are taking that large atmospheric air, filtering out any dust, making sure that it is completely desiccated.

Ross Hofmeyr, Associate Professor - Department of Anaesthesia & Perioperative Medicine (UCT)

The temperature of that [air] is decreased to close to minus 200 degrees at a pressure of 5-10 atmospheres.

Ross Hofmeyr, Associate Professor - Department of Anaesthesia & Perioperative Medicine (UCT)

That causes the air - mostly containing oxygen and about four-fifths nitrogen - to liquify. And under very controlled conditions the temperature of that liquid oxygen and nitrogen mixture is raised sufficiently so that the nitrogen bubbles off, leaving just the oxygen and one or two of the trace elements.

Ross Hofmeyr, Associate Professor - Department of Anaesthesia & Perioperative Medicine (UCT)

Liquid oxygen is the most efficient way to store large volumes of oxygen. In a litre of liquid oxygen, there are about 840 litres of gaseous oxygen.

Ross Hofmeyr, Associate Professor - Department of Anaesthesia & Perioperative Medicine (UCT)

Listen to the discussion on Afternoon Drive with John Maytham:




17 January 2021 9:05 AM
Tags:
Covid-19 patient
oxygen supply
medical oxygen

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