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March 25th, 2021 – 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”, explains 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 health care 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”.

Editor’s Notes:

  • On-site generation: Compared to the on-demand delivery of gas bottles or tanks, on-site production of gases offers a wealth of advantages ranging from cost savings to continuous availability. Atlas Copco’s family of advanced nitrogen and oxygen generators offers the solution of flexible, on-site production of industrial gas at the lowest possible cost.
  • Oxygen Therapy: The internationally accepted indications for the use of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) therapy that the centre is able to offer in addition to that for Multiple Sclerosis, includes a wide range of conditions including Cerebral Palsy, Autism, Strokes, Wound Healing. Diabetic Ulcers, Rheumatoid Arthritis, and a full range of limb strains, fractures, and tendon repairs.
  • Control Gear is an Atlas Copco Compressors premier distributor. Established in 1973 in Pontypridd, it is one of the largest independent fluid power companies in the UK. Control Gear are focussed on reducingwhole lifecycle costs for its customers’ processes by increasing uptime and reducing running costs.

For more information please contact:
Joanna Canton Long, Marketing Communications Manager, Atlas Copco Compressors
+44 (0)1442 222240 or  joanna.canton.long@uk.atlascopco.com

Atlas Copco Compressors

Atlas Copco Compressors is a leading manufacturer of energy efficient compressed air systems and vacuum pumps. In the UK the company offers a nationwide sales, service and distribution network and specialist compressed air advice and service to UK compressed air and vacuum users. Our product portfolio covers oil-free air compressors, oil-lubricated air compressors, centrifugal compressors, high-pressure compressors, vacuum pumps, blowers, engineered air and gas compressors, nitrogen generators; air treatment equipment such as dryers, receivers, and air line filters, as well as aluminium pipework for compressed air, nitrogen, oxygen and other gases.

Atlas Copco Compressors is a leading manufacturer of energy efficient compressed air systems and industrial gas generators. In the UK the company has a nationwide sales, service and distribution network to support compressed air and industrial gas users in all industries. Our product portfolio includes oil-free air compressors, oil-lubricated air compressors, air blowers, nitrogen and oxygen generators; air treatment equipment such as dryers, receivers, and filters, as well as pipework. We provide parts and service for any brand of air compressor and we can advise on energy efficiency, system optimisation and connectivity solutions.

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