Schoolboy builds low-cost oxygen concentrator
Watching his father die without oxygen support while suffering from a cardiac condition last year, young Taher Mahmud Tarif resolved to build a device to prevent any more such tragic deaths.
Tarif's determination and tireless efforts paid off as the ninth grader of Ishwardi Sara Marwari High School has succeeded in producing an oxygen concentrator machine, mainly using local parts.
He has already received appreciation from medical professionals and experts after demonstrating his invention at the Ishwardi upazila nirbahi office and Pabna Medical College Hospital. Recently, he also demonstrated his device before top-level officials of the Ministry of Science and Technology.
"They appreciated my machine and asked me to develop it as a portable one and make a few other technical developments," Tarif told the Daily Star, adding that the device will be tested at Buet soon.
"About 90 percent oxygen [concentration] can be generated from my oxygen concentrator machine. This machine can provide high-flow oxygen supply too," Tarif added.
An oxygen concentrator takes in air and removes nitrogen from it, leaving oxygen-enriched gas for use by people needing medical oxygen.
Many Covid-19 patients experience low oxygen levels in their blood, with demand for oxygen concentrators among other medical equipment shooting up during the recent surge in cases.
Tarif said that his father's tragic death due to a lack of oxygen was the driving force for him to build the device.
"Capturing ambient air through a compressor, the machine separates oxygen from other gases using zeolite and gives output of oxygen," said Tarif.
Zeolite is the only imported material that he needed to build and operate the machine, he added.
He said that a locally made oxygen concentrator like his costs approximately Tk 65,000 whereas an imported one costs over Tk 2 lakh.
He hopes his invention during the pandemic might be helpful for Covid-19 patients struggling to get medical oxygen, if it is approved by the authorities.
"This is obviously a good invention for oxygen generation. It is capable of producing high-flow oxygen so it can be used for patients or refilling oxygen cylinders," said Dr Md Sirajul Islam, assistant professor of the anesthesiology department of Pabna Medical College Hospital.
"It can be very handy in local areas with no scope of getting oxygen support," Dr Siraj added.
He, however, said that more lab and other examinations are needed before using the machine as medical equipment.
Imrul Kayes, Ishwardi upazila nirbahi officer, said Tarif's oxygen concentrator device had caught the attention of government high-ups.
"We have talked with the authorities concerned about getting a patent for Tarif's machine. If his invention gets approved, it will be a great achievement during this alarming Covid-19 situation," the UNO said.