Essential Tech Centre
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“For breath is life, so if you breathe well you will live long on earth.” – Sanskrit Proverb

According to the WHO, 120,000 children die each year due to lack of oxygen. Hospitals and clinics in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) suffer from chronic shortages of medical oxygen, with dire clinical consequences for critical care, surgery, and treatment of infectious disease such as COVID-19 and pneumonia.

The challenge : Lack of access to medical oxygen

 The lack of reliable oxygen sources in LMICs can be attributed to, on the one hand, poor supply chain and high costs that make provision of compressed air cylinders impracticable and, on the other, technical issues that defeat traditional oxygen delivery equipment. The oxygen concentrators that are the main source of oxygen in LMICs have a high failure rate because they: 

  • Are designed for residential use in high-income countries 
  • Require continuous and stable power
  • Are susceptible to high humidity and heat
  • Lack service networks for preventive and urgent maintenance
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Unusable oxygen concentrators photographed in a low-income setting.
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In South Sudan, a mother holds her infant suffering from respiratory distress.

Our adapted solution : Oxygen provision services and adapted oxygen concentrator

The central idea behind our innovation is to pilot an integrated delivery solution for oxygen that ensures an affordable and uninterrupted supply of oxygen at health care facilities. Our solution is two-fold:

A sustainable and affordable integrated oxygen service to ensure access to a reliable source of oxygen and ensures years of up-time by transferring the burden of maintenance from under-resourced facilities to expert technicians.

  • Complementary equipment and consumables
  • Three training modules (clinical application, use of equipment and maintenance)
  • Maintenance of oxygen concentrator, related equipment and resupply of consumables
  • Innovative and flexible fee-based service ensures sustainability over the long-term, improving accessibility and availability in rural and low-resource areas

 A smart, low-cost, and robust oxygen concentrator designed specifically for the challenges of the context. 

  • Highly resistant to heat, humidity and dust
  • Tolerant of poor quality and intermittent power
  • Highly efficient (30 – 60 watts per litre)
  • Extremely robust, easy to maintain, remotely monitored
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Concept model for the GlobalO2 oxygen concentrator
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Sieve beds in working prototype

Project status

A functional prototype of the concentrator has been built and a technology demonstrator is in development, along with the feasibility study of the integrated oxygen service.

Project manager

Gene Saxon

Partners & supporters

Our supporters and partners are indispensable to this project’s success. Working with partners including those of the local environment and end users, enables critical interdisciplinary skills and various perspectives.

Laboratory for Functional Inorganic Materials (LFIM) Distributed Energy Systems Laboratory DESL)


Image copyrights: Adobe, Sylvain Liechti, ICRC, EssentialTech

EssentialTech Centre

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