How does a Portable Oxygen Concentrator work?
Every oxygen concentrator is different in design, but how it operates and the technology used is typically the same. In this example, we used the INOGENONE G3 which is a pulse flow portable oxygen concentrator.
How it works...
The technology behind a portable oxygen concentrator is based on the same principle of a home domestic concentrator. Air at sea level is mainly made up of nitrogen and other noble gases with 21% of the air being oxygen.
A compressor inside the machine will pressurise the air through a system of chemical filters known as a molecular sieve. This chemical filter is made up of silicate granules called Zeolite. The Zeolite will sieve the nitrogen out of the “air” concentrating the oxygen.
Part of the produced oxygen is delivered to the user; part is fed back into the sieves to clear the system from the accumulated nitrogen, making it ready for the next cycle. Through this process, the system is capable of producing medical grade oxygen of up to 96% consistently.
Using pulse flow whilst sleeping
Technology has progressed in such a way that it’s possible to sleep whilst using a pulse flow oxygen concentrator with variable bolus delivery. Every time you breathe in, a “burst” of oxygen is delivered through the nasal cannula.
The length of these oxygen bursts are automatically adjusted to be shorter or longer based on your breathing rate. This is known as a variable bolus delivery. When we sleep, our breathing rate naturally slows down. A machine with variable bolus delivery will detect a slower breathing rate and cleverly adjusts the bolus size so longer “bursts” of oxygen are delivered every time a breath is taken.
These longer “bursts” counteract the slower breathing rate and ensures that you are still getting the prescribed amount of oxygen. Pulse flow devices are not suitable for use during sleep for users with a sleeping disorder including sleep apnoea.