Oxygen concentrators work by pulling oxygen out of the air and storing it, as the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute explains. Because of this, they do not need refills and are less expensive than other oxygen delivery systems. However, they operate on electricity and need a back-up system to prevent an interruption during a power outage.
Oxygen concentrators use a five-step process, according to the Oxygen Concentrator Store. First, the unit pulls in air from the room. It then compresses the oxygen and removes the nitrogen. Then, it uses a valve to adjust how it delivers the air before providing it to the patient.
A good oxygen concentrator delivers as much oxygen to the patient as it can, providing patients with air that is 90 to 95 percent oxygen with the remainder being nitrogen, as the Oxygen Concentrator Store details. When breathing normal air, patients take in air that has 20 percent oxygen, around 80 percent nitrogen and small amounts of other gases, as detailed by About.com.
A portable oxygen concentrator is made up of a container that holds a motor and compressor, a surge tank, a four-way solenoid valve, and molecular sieve beds, according to the Oxygen Concentrator Store. It also has a product tank, a pressure regulator and a flow meter adjusting valve.