What is an oxygen concentrator and how it works? Know Its Benefits

by Shatakshi Gupta

The second tsunami of Corona is setting new records of new patients and deaths every day.  Over the past few days, more than 3 lakh new cases are being reported in the country. Hospitals of the country are running out of bed.The lack of oxygen is becoming one of the most fatal causes among COVID patients.

The oxygen cylinders refilling line can be seen for kilometres in the country. Amid this oxygen crisis,people are opting for an alternative to oxygen cylinders. For the past few weeks, Oxygen Concentrator is in so much demand. Experts are saying that it is very beneficial for patients undergoing treatment in home isolation.

In this context, let’s understand what an oxygen concentrator is? how it works and how beneficial it is for the patients?

What is an oxygen concentrator?

Also read: Why India Is Facing A Medical Oxygen Crisis? Know All About Medical Oxygen Here

The air around us is a mixture of various gases. The oxygen concentrator separates the oxygen from the ambient air. This concentrator supplies nearly pure oxygen by taking the air inside and separating oxygen from the other gases.

How it is different from an oxygen cylinder?

The oxygen given to patients in ICU or on ventilators in the hospital is stored in large tankers of the hospital. The oxygen from these tankers reaches the patient’s bed by pipeline. In hospitals that do not have tankers to store oxygen, small cylinders are used for each patient.

The oxygen in cylinders reaches the hospital from a plant, where it is produced on a large scale. Consider the oxygen concentrator as a small and domestic oxygen plant. This concentrator purifies the environmental air and can be used for patients with mild symptoms.

Also read: The Whole “Oxygen” Fiasco Explained (Covid Update)

Benefits if an oxygen concentrator

There are several benefits of Concentrator over oxygen cylinders:

  • A concentrator can supply 5 to 10 litres of 95 per cent pure oxygen per minute.
  • Unlike the oxygen cylinder, it does not need to be refilled time and again.
  • It is a standalone device. In other words, no device other than an oxygen concentrator is required for oxygen supply.
  • A good concentrator can be used continuously for 24 hours for months.
  • Moreover, there is no maintenance cost involved.
  • It can also be run on the inverter, in case of a power cut.
What are the disadvantages of the concentrator?
  • The biggest drawback of the oxygenconcentrator is that it is useless for serious COVID patients. Serious COVID patients require about 40 to 50 litres of oxygen flow per minute, which is far beyond the capacity of the concentrator.
  • Besides, the oxygen supplied from the concentrator is less pure. The oxygen given to ICU patients is up to 99% pure. Whereas, these devices can supply up to 95% pure oxygen.
  • This is an expensive alternative compared to an oxygen cylinder. Its price ranges from 40 thousand rupees to one lakh rupees.

Things to keep in mind while buying a concentrator

Purity of oxygen:

The purity of medical oxygen given to the patients in the hospital is up to 99%, but the purity of oxygen of the concentrators varies from 88% to 95%. The higher the purity of oxygen, the more will be its utility. However, this will increase the price of the concentrator.

Flow rate:

Flow rate means how much oxygen it is supplying per minute. The higher the flow rate, the more oxygen the patient will receive. The flow rate of a good concentrator should be 1 to 5 litres per minute.


The other decisive factor is its portability. The concentrator should not be so heavy that it causes a problem in shifting from one place to another.  The weight of the concentrator is directly related to its flow rate. The higher the flow rate of the concentrator, the more will be its weight.

Power consumption:

Power consumption also varies according to the capacity of the concentrator.  Choose a concentrator that can run even in low power. Choose a concentrator that can be run on an inverter as well.