Oxygen Concentrator Cycle of Operations

Oxygen concentrators are used to deliver supplemental oxygen, and medical grade oxygen to patients who can't bring enough oxygen into their bodies through their lungs. Getting enough oxygen is extremely important, because our bodies use it as fuel. We need it to keep every cell in our body functioning the way they're supposed to. If we don't get enough oxygen, our bodies will begin to shut down.

People who need oxygen concentrators do not have enough oxygen in their bloodstream, and most likely have a chronic lung disease, such as COPD or cystic fibrosis. Something is effecting lung function in such a way, that it prevents the lungs from breathing in enough oxygen, and functioning the way a healthy person's lungs would. In the case of emphysema, it's the lung's tiny air sacks that are damaged, or in the case of cystic fibrosis, the lungs produce excessive mucus that makes it much harder to breathe.

How does an oxygen concentrator work?

The simple answer: An oxygen concentrator literally works to concentrate the air that it brings in, to oxygen around a purity of 95%. It removes the other gases and things in the air, and leaves you with a much higher concentration of oxygen to breathe in.

It doesn't all work by magic, though! The inner workings of an oxygen concentrator are complex and it's really a sensitive piece of medical equipment. Small and light portable oxygen concentrators that have a lot of great features, and have a wide range of dosage settings are amazing because of how small they are, and how much they actually do inside.

The long answer: A special compressor draws in the air through the air intake vent, where it passes through it's first filter – the gross particle intake filter. This filter catches any larger pieces of debris in the air that you wouldn't want to breathe in, such as dust, dirt and pollutants. It might go through a second filter before the air is brought into the Zeolite-lined chamber.

The Zeolite attracts and absorbs the nitrogen in the air. Nitrogen makes up 78% of the air around us. 21% is oxygen, and the last 1% is trace amounts of various other gases that are safe to breathe in. The important part in this whole process, is that the nitrogen is removed and the rest is mostly oxygen.

The oxygen is brought into another chamber, where it is delivered to the patient through the cannula outlet port, and the rubber tubing. The nitrogen is released out of the Zeolite chamber through the outlet vent.

If you're using a pulse dose setting, the oxygen will be released out of the oxygen chamber in pulses, or “boluses”. The concentrator doesn't have to work as hard when it's on the pulse dose setting. If it's running on a continuous flow setting, it has to work harder to bring in air and purify the oxygen more quickly

About Scott Ridl: Scott joined American Medical Sales and Rentals in 2008 as a Web Manager and Content Writer. He is a writer and designer. He is extensively trained on oxygen therapy products from leading manufacturers such as Inogen, Respironics, Chart, Invacare, ResMed and more. Scott works closely with respiratory therapists and oxygen specialists to educate the community about oxygen therapy products, COPD, asthma and lung diseases. He writes weekly columns and is passionate about educating the community on oxygen therapy and respiratory issues.

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