Govt kicks off wartime move to convert 30 nitrogen units into oxygen plants

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India faces acute shortage of oxygen as Covid-19 cases rise (Photo: IANS)

The government has kicked off the process to convert nitrogen plants of 30 industrial entities into oxygen producing units for meeting the sharp increase in demand of the life-saving gas amid the raging Covid-19 pandemic.

According to a statement issued by the Ministry of Environment, some of these plants can be shifted to nearby hospitals for supplying oxygen and cases where it is not feasible to shift the plants, they can produce oxygen on-site.

Oxygen produced in on-site plants has to be compressed and filled in cylinders using high pressure compressor for transporting to hospitals. Facilitation is being provided to these industries for completion of work at the earliest.

Considering the COVID-19 pandemic situation and to further augment availability of oxygen for medical purposes in the country, the Central Government had asked Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), which has comprehensive database of industrial units, to identify the industries having spare nitrogen plants and explore the feasibility of converting of existing Nitrogen plants to produce oxygen.

CPCB with the help of State Pollution Control Boards (SPCBs) has identified such potential industries, wherein existing Nitrogen generation plants may be spared for production of oxygen. Consultations have been held with potential industrial units and experts

M/s UPL Ltd converted one 50 Nm3/hr capacity Nitrogen plant to produce oxygen using Zeolite Molecular Sieve, and installed it at L G Rotary Hospital at Vapi in Gujarat. This plant is producing 0.5 ton/day oxygen and is operational since 27.04.2021. UPL Ltd. is also under process of conversion of three more plants. On conversion to oxygen, these plants will be installed at hospitals in Surat and Ankaleshwar.

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 valves etc., oxygen for medical use can be produced. With the availability of ZMS, such a modified plant can be set up in 4-5 days while installation of a new oxygen plant may take a minimum 3-4 weeks.

Covid-19 In India