Medical

MS therapy centre benefits from oxygen generation upgrade

25th March 2021
Lanna Deamer

When the South Wales Multiple Sclerosis Therapy Centre in Swansea, a member of the national MSNTC charity, was looking to expand its oxygen therapy services to MS patients, the limitations of plant room space and reliance on infrequent oxygen delivery schedules presented major obstacles. Moving to larger premises and installing an Atlas Copco on-site oxygen generation system for 24/7 availability, has resulted in increased therapy capacity, reduced running costs, and the potential for heat recovery energy savings.

Oxygen therapy

Oxygen therapy involves breathing pure oxygen in a hyperbaric chamber at 1.5 to 2 times normal atmospheric pressure. Additional oxygen can extend the body’s ability to heal and can limit some of the damage which MS causes.

In the inflammation that is typical of MS, the transport of oxygen is severely limited by fluid leakage from capillaries causing tissue swelling around the attack site. When pure oxygen is breathed in under pressure, more of it is dissolved in the blood than would normally be the case. As a result, swelling around attack sites is reduced and blood vessels constrict, preventing leakage and allowing tissue which is not dead but ‘sleeping’, to repair itself.

The aim of oxygen therapy in MS is to minimise the amount of damage being caused, promote rapid healing, and to limit the scar formation which blocks messages getting from the brain to the limbs, thus preventing nerve function being restored and causing disability.

Expanding the centre and its facilities

After operating at the MS former therapy site for some 30 plus years, it became evident that to meet increased demand for its services, the facility would need more equipment and space to accommodate it.

At the time, the centre was functioning with just one hyperbaric chamber and an inadequate plant room storage capacity for oxygen supply of just 220 litres. If the therapy equipment was to be fully utilised, it needed to consume twice that volume of patients’ oxygen supply. Furthermore, the situation was aggravated by the oxygen supplier’s delivery schedule which was limited to two-week intervals.  

Having secured a newly built, larger premises, Christine Jones, who manages the Swansea facility, now had the opportunity to add a second hyperbaric chamber, doubling the centre’s therapy capacity. But its full potential could only be fulfilled with a substantial and continual, self-sufficient supply of oxygen.

There followed an extensive programme of evaluating the oxygen supply options and sources used within the parent MSNTC charity membership circle of 60 therapy centres, as well as the leading oxygen generation systems suppliers at home and abroad.

The search included Atlas Copco’s manufacturing base in Belgium and led to an invitation to Atlas Copco Compressors’ premier distributor in Wales, Control Gear, based in Pontypridd, to carry out an extensive review of the system requirement and to recommend a cost-effective solution.

“It was a no-brainer,” explained Christine Jones. “When we took into account the supplier’s cost of transferring the bulk liquid oxygen vessel, installing a second unit, the price of the oxygen and the on-going rental charges, the total sum was equivalent to the one-off capital equipment and installation costs for an on-site, independent generation system that could provide us with unlimited oxygen 24/7, plus technical support.

"What’s more, there is scope for utilising a heat recovery system to save energy. As a charity, we have a duty to run the operation with a view to reduce costs, savings that can be passed on in the form of service to the users, the patients we treat.”

The oxygen generation system

The system installed at the centre by Control Gear comprises an Atlas Copco GA 18VSD+FF full feature, rotary screw compressor with Elektronikon controller, plus ancillaries, supplying 7 bar dry air to an OGP14 generator producing 94-95% purity oxygen at the FOD (Free Oxygen Delivery) rate of 12.2 Nm³/h. (12.2 scfm).

The OGP oxygen generator uses Pressure Swing Adsorption technology to remove nitrogen and other gases from compressed air to leave high purity oxygen at the outlet of the generator. In addition to its healthcare role, the OGP Series is designed to provide cost-efficient oxygen for applications such as wastewater therapy, ozone production, and the glass industry.

To ensure essential continuity of oxygen supply to the hyperbaric chambers at all times, the complete installation of the compressor and OGP generator is subject to scheduled site maintenance visits from Control Gear’s service engineers under an Atlas Copco total responsibility plan.

Commenting on the successful outcome of the project, Derek James from Control Gear said: “I became emotionally attached to the harsh reality of the work this worthwhile charity provides. The cooperation of Christine Jones and her Team ensured that a challenging project runs smoothly. Control Gear are very proud to have been involved with reducing costs for all the incredible people at the South Wales Multiple Sclerosis Therapy Centre in Swansea.”

Benefit of the installation

Although the advent of the Coronavirus has resulted in restrictions on the number of patients that can be treated simultaneously at each session within the upgraded facility, Christine Jones is upbeat concerning the contribution the new system is making to the centre’s efficiency and cost-reduction programme: “Every day we are seeing the benefits of an installation that was tailor-made for our needs and the level of control it allows us over output and budgetary considerations. We are pleased to pass on to all other therapy specialists our great experience with this project and our gratitude for the support we have received from the Atlas Copco team.”

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