PSA (Pressure Swing Adsorption) is an economical alternative for Onsite production of Oxygen for Medical use and is in use for over 20 years in the medical industry. Ambient air fed into the compressors is 78% nitrogen, 21% oxygen, less than 1% argon and other gases. As nitrogen is separated, the resulting gas is up to 95.5% oxygen purity. This maximum purity is the theoretical maximum; as nitrogen is adsorbed, the remaining gas can only contain the remaining 1% argon and other trace gases and 21% oxygen, therefore the limiting concentration of the impurities will be 1/22 or 4.5% maximum. This leaves the ultimate maximum oxygen purity at 95.5% actual concentration of gases varies slightly, so the above is an approximation to within ½%.
PSA process is based on the fact that different gases have the propensity to be attracted to different solid surfaces more or less strongly. This happens with nitrogen, which is attracted to the zeolites. As the air is compressed, the nitrogen is forced into the crystalline cages of the zeolite, and the oxygen is less adsorbed and conveyed to the end of the zeolite bed and ultimately recovered in the oxygen buffer tank.
Two zeolite beds are used together: One filters air and under pressure until it gets saturated with nitrogen while oxygen passes through. The second filter begins to do the same while the first one is regenerated as nitrogen is expulsed (desorbed) by releasing the pressure. The process repeats again, storing the oxygen and argon in a tank.
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