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Oxygen concentrator shows potential to help reduce child mortality rates in developing world

Cambridge Design Partnership : 18 March, 2013  (Company News)
Design and technology consultancy Cambridge Design Partnership, in conjunction with the University of Cambridge Judge Business School, has identified that the company's award winning Oxygen Concentrator, originally designed for the military, might be repurposed to bring benefit to resource constrained countries, with the potential to help address child mortality rates around the world.

Cambridge Design Partnership's Oxygen Concentrator was developed in 2011 with the Centre for Defence Enterprise (CDE) to deliver oxygen to wounded soldiers on the battlefield. The company recently commissioned the world leading University of Cambridge Judge Business School to examine alternative markets in developing world countries where its lightweight, diesel-powered Oxygen Concentrator design might be reutilised. The resulting feasibility study identified a clear and potentially life changing demand for the device across huge swathes of Africa and South Asia.

Of the 10 million children that die each year 95 percent of these deaths occur in the developing world. Four million of these deaths occur through respiratory distress syndrome and pneumonia after birth. A large portion of these deaths could potentially be mitigated through the provision of adequate and timely oxygen supplies. The World Health Organisation has previously recognised that although oxygen-provision is a basic requirement in saving lives, oxygen is rarely available, and is often lacking in resource poor settings.

Current oxygen solutions available in developing countries include concentrators that are powered by unreliable electricity supplies and heavy, expensive oxygen cylinders that rely on transport infrastructure. The Oxygen Concentrator works by cycling air pressure in chambers filled with a gas absorbing substance: atmospheric oxygen can then be concentrated to 95 percent purity.

The Oxygen concentrator crucially does not rely on main electricity, something that is vital for hospitals and clinics in rural districts where electricity supplies are often unreliable, and where the medical needs can be greater. Based on a micro-engine developed by Cambridge Design Partnership it can run on a variety of readily available, cost-effective fuels, including ordinary diesel.

"The Oxygen Concentrator won the Defence and Security award at The Engineer Technology and Innovation Awards 2011. Following this success we set out to identify opportunities to put this work and research to wider use and extend it beyond the military," said David Foster, Partner, Cambridge Design Partnership. "In many ways a hostile military environment where resources are limited is similar to the challenging environments often faced in developing countries. A lot of the work at CDP is about finding solutions for one sector using innovation previously developed for another, so it seems fitting that the Oxygen Concentrator’s capabilities should be extended to answer yet another important market need."

Cambridge Design Partnership is now looking for partners to support the development of the Oxygen Concentrator for future deployment in developing countries.

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