Take care: the supply of compressed air during the pandemic

Monday, October 5, 2020

It seems inconceivable that the death toll from the global pandemic has surpassed a million deaths.

It seems inconceivable that the death toll from the global pandemic has surpassed a million deaths. One million lives lost and still rising. For most countries, including the UK, health care facilities and hospitals have been stretched to almost breaking point since March, when pop-up hospitals seemingly sprung up overnight to help with hospital capacity. 


And this is far from over. With a vaccine still in trial phase and the onslaught of flu-season, at BOGE we are asking: what more can we do?


When faced with a worldwide emergency the priorities are clear - safety comes first where human lives are at stake.


Compressed air is used in both medical procedures and for maintaining healthcare facilities to provide machine ventilation to patients in intensive care units and to operate different medical devices. At BOGE, we will continue to prioritise the medical, healthcare and pharmaceutical sectors.


Delivering pure air to hospitals and other medical facilities is a complex operation because the highest priority for medical air is patient safety and that requires an assurance that breathing air is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week without fail.


But the challenges for air used in the healthcare sector go beyond this. It must comply with a host of stringent regulations governing the specification and use of medical equipment as well as be energy efficient to ensure its cost-effectiveness.


Hospitals require two different types of air to be generated by their compressed air system – medical air for use with patients and medical equipment, and technical utility air to maintain the facility.  


It’s important that the systems supplying this air are kept apart. In other words, air supplied by compressors for the benefit of patients can’t be used for maintenance purposes, or vice versa.  


One of the most critical design criteria for a hospital compressed air system is the calculation of the hospital’s 100 percent compressed air demand. This is defined as the amount of air that would be required should every conceivable application was being used at the same time. By designing compressed air systems with at least triple redundancy, the risk of failure is virtually eliminated.  


There is little difference between compressors used for medical air and those for general air in a hospital. In fact, the compressors themselves are not classified as medical devices; this means there is no restriction on the type of compressor used in healthcare facilities.  


The main difference between compressed air systems for medical and maintenance purposes is in the software that controls them; the system as a whole (rather than its individual components) is classed as a medical device and the gas that it delivers is classified as a medicine.  


Effective filtration is critical to the delivery of 100 percent medically pure air. BOGE’s systems, for example, which comply with all relevant European medical standards for compressed air, operate a seven-stage filtration process with two chambers to dry the compressed air and remove harmful substances in a ‘pressure swing’ process.  


Integrated filter and purification/catalytic stages treat the compressed air efficiently and reliably according to the stringent specifications for the supply of medical compressed air.  


The filtration must have at least two redundancies to ensure the output of medical air is delivered to a defined purity, even if one stream is offline for maintenance or has a fault. The filtration process itself must ensure that any residual oil, dust, and humidity are removed as well as limiting the ambient concentration of carbon monoxide.  


When BOGE design a compressed air system for medical, we always gear it to the worst-case scenario and that pretty much sums up 2020. Not only that, but our key workers have carried out and continue to work tirelessly to deliver compressed air systems for medical sector and beyond.  As our aim is of course the same as the hospital key workers themselves – the best possible care and welfare of those who are receiving treatment or in recovery. Take care.


Download our free guide to compressed air for healthcare here