A portable oxygen concentrator (POC) is a device capable of extracting and concentrating oxygen from ambient air for the purpose of providing oxygen therapy. POCs are similar to oxygen concentrators (OCs) but are substantially smaller allowing them to be more mobile and carried around. POC devices often come with cases and bags making them less vulnerable to damage under rugged conditions.
POCs work by bringing ambient air into them by sucking it in and then changing that air by concentrating oxygen. POCs remove nitrogen found in ambient air through forcing the air to travel through filters and sieve beds. All POCs have an electronic user interface for adjusting oxygen delivery settings such as oxygen concentrations or oxygen delivery speed. Each POC is equipped in an air compression system that also acts as its cooling system when operating. POCs delivery concentrated oxygen to patients using a nasal cannula or a mask.
POCs are made to be used for both medical and commercial applications. Examples of medical uses include oxygen therapy (asthma, pneumonia, respiratory disease syndrome, Bronchopulmonary dysplasia, increasing stamina, improving athletic performance, etc...), mobile use of POCs instead of oxygen tanks, and POCs are able to provide longer supplies of oxygen to patients compared to tank-based oxygen therapy systems. Examples of commercial applications include: non-pressurized aircraft, skin care, nightclub oxygen bars, and glass blowing.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approves the use of portable oxygen concentrators on all U.S. aircraft with more than 19 seats. The FAA also makes all foreign airlines with flights to or from the U.S. allow the use of portable oxygen concentrators on their aircrafts. The FAA has a published lists of FAA-approved portable oxygen concentrator makes and models on their website. The FAA has established 5 criteria requirements for POCs to be used on aircraft flying within, to, or from the U.S:
- The POC must be legally marketed within the U.S. in accordance with regulations in place by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
- The POC does not emit any radio frequencies capable of interfering with aircraft communication systems
- The POC does not generate compressed gas
- There are no hazardous materials present in the POC requiring aircraft operator approval
- POCs must have all required labelling, including the following label in red lettering ' The manufacturer of this POC has determined this device conforms to all applicable FAA acceptance criteria for POC carriage and use on board aircraft'
Rugged oxygen concentrators are types of portable oxygen concentrators made to be used in first responder, emergency situations, special forces, search and rescue teams, medevac teams, and disaster relief teams. ROGs are self contained chemical oxygen generators not requiring maintenance when they are not in use. They work by generating oxygen through the thermal decomposition of sodium chlorate within the rugged oxygen concentrators, and do not require the use of electricity, mixing chemicals, or filling with chemicals to be used in the field. Due to the chemical generation of oxygen by ROGs they have high degrees of safety because they do not require the presence of pressurized gas for their use.
Companies making ROGs include MineARC Systems and Molecular Products. The ROG made by Molecular Technologies and MineARC Systems are both capable of delivering a minimum of 90 litres of breathable oxygen in 15 minutes and both use a phosphorous match to start oxygen production by combining the oxidation of iron powder formulated with sodium chlorate. The ROG made by MineARC Systems is capable of delivering emergency oxygen up to an altitude of 20,000 feet, and the ROG made by Molecular Products is FDA 510k cleared as a class II over the counter (OTC) portable oxygen concentrator. On February 10, 2014 Ian McKernan, the CEO of Molecular Products, made the following statements after his company's ROG was given 510K clearance from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA):
The ROG is a truly hand held personal oxygen generator and we are delighted to receive 510k clearance for it from the FDA. Getting this ground-breaking product out into the market means that it can start to be used for the purpose for which it’s intended; helping to save lives.
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