COVID-19 Manifold Systems Alert
It has been about one year since the Covid-19 virus started spreading around the world. In the beginning we had little idea how severely it would impact our lives. Much has come to light since that time and in many ways, it has had serious complications on the medical gas supply and pipeline equipment industry.
One of the most severe cases of disruption is with the supply of medical oxygen to patients in hospitals and long-term care facilities. When hospitals and long-term care facilities were designed, they were designed for conditions considered normal at the time. Most included some additional capacity for expansion during undefined unusual events.
Then along came the Covid-19 virus which created a demand for oxygen that we had not experienced before or anticipated. Not only did this pandemic create great stress on the oxygen producers and their distribution systems, it has in some cases pushed all the equipment and piping systems connected to the oxygen supply in hospitals to and beyond their limits.
This equipment includes high pressure cylinder and liquid oxygen manifolds. Because of pipe sizing, regulators and other fittings used in the manufacture of manifolds, as well as characteristics of cylinders and portable liquid oxygen containers, there are limitations on how much oxygen can flow through manifolds and into hospital internal piping systems.
When more oxygen is flowing through a manifold than the manifold has been designed for, there will be external frosting of the components in the manifold. The external frosting does not indicate that the inside of the pipe is frosted – oxygen is a dry gas – but the external frosting and freezing can cause the manifold to malfunction.
The capacity of the internal medical oxygen piping system within the facility can also be exceeded. An indication of that is a drop in pressure from the oxygen manifold to various zones downstream in the hospital oxygen piping system. As an example, the manifold can be delivering 55 or 60 psig of oxygen, but downstream zones can be measuring lower pressure (for example 45 psig or even lower) because of the limited capacity of the medical oxygen piping system which was only designed to support a significantly lower flow of oxygen.
We at Tri-Tech Medical are aware that this can be a serious problem. We are very concerned about it. We are seeing this more often, and customers are asking what can be done to eliminate the frosting and pressure drops.
There may be solutions to this problem. In some cases, installing additional manifold systems to increase volume or installing a bulk liquid oxygen supply system might be the best option. In those cases, it is very important that they be installed correctly, specific to the hospital or long-term care facility layout and requirements. Sometimes not even that will eliminate frosting and pressure drops.
The purpose of this letter is not to alert you to a problem you are already aware of but to ask you to please consult with us before you purchase additional manifolds or install that bulk liquid oxygen system. We can assist you in determining the proper equipment and proper layout to hopefully eliminate this problem.
When you do consult with us, we need good solid information on the exact application and requirements. We need the current details and condition of the manifold systems and the actual current oxygen use, not a guess or an estimate. This information is always available but sometimes it takes some investigation. Without good information we would only be guessing as to the proper equipment required.
While Tri-Tech Medical is in the business of manufacturing and selling manifold systems, we take very seriously the important role we play in ensuring that the hospital and its patients are supplied with oxygen equipment that takes the worry out of oxygen supply.