Morgan Meinecke
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Extreme frontier hospital oxygen supply

It all started when the Indian Ministry of Health Administration started planning for a new District Hospital for Kargil. This area is regularly cut off from the rest of the country.

The hospital would be built in a very remote area of India, in a rugged, high mountainous valley. Kargil is a town that lies in the Himalayas, precisely in the Zaskar Range. These mountains are in the western part of the Ladakh region and part of the Jammu and Kashmir state of Indian administered Kashmir. Kargil has the reputation of being the world’s second coldest inhabitant place, just after Siberia in Russia with winter temperatures of -48°C (-54°F) or even colder. It is further combined with an average height over sea level of 2,676 m (8,780 feet) and the seasonal fluctuation of a dry, desert - arctic climate reaching summer heights of +35°C (95°F). Heavy snowfall is experienced in winter, regular 5m with no open winter roads for supplies or transport.

This said it was a given that no oxygen supply by traditional way of cylinders or liquid gas could be relied on. However, a regulated and constant oxygen source, especially for medical oxygen is essential for a hospital or clinic. Sometimes medical oxygen is a matter of life and death. Medical oxygen is used during anaesthetic’s, oxygen therapy and needed in many other regenerating treatments.

The responsible engineers of the Indian administration where forced to search for a specialist company in plant manufacturing of Onsite Medical Oxygen Generators with experience in the supply as well as support of remote areas and design capabilities for the extreme ambient conditions.

After a long search and subsequent qualification period the choice was to partner with INMATEC Gase Technologie GmbH & Co. KG – a German based manufacturer and expert in medical oxygen generation onsite. INMATEC’s global reach includes needed local experience with boots on the ground and several existing, well working installations at state owned hospitals in Kashmir’s capital Srinagar only a few hundred kilometres away from the planned site.

The long journey started once the manufacturing of oxygen generator model PO3450 with a capacity of 33 Nm3/h at 95% purity was completed in Germany. More than 5 m of snow on the roads to Kargil stopped the first delivery attempt just short of the goal. Finally, on the 19.10.2016 the commissioning of the plant was successfully completed and pure oxygen started to stream into the pipeline network, ready to be breathed by any patient in need. Site visits were still necessary to take every aspect of such challenging environmental as well as logistical aspects in consideration. The aftersales support would be guaranteed from INMATEC’s local Indian distributor. The plant was designed to feed oxygen directly into the gas network of the clinic and also to fill cylinders as a backup source. Cylinders were also needed for ambulances and even remoter areas not accessible to the hospital. Oxygen generators utilise ambient air as their raw material and a major obstacle was the thin air at height combined with very hot and cold temperatures.

These obstacles could only be overcome by using highest quality components such as INMATEC’s adsorbent material Carbon Molecular Sieve type ZEOLITE, its unique formula a result of in house research and development.

It offers the best production characteristics under extreme conditions, is teamed with state of the art energy saving technologies and meticulous adjustments between all plant process equipment.

Oxygen supplies in hospitals or clinics located in inaccessible areas is a challenge.
Oxygen supplies in hospitals or clinics located in inaccessible areas is a challenge.

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