A Low-Pressure Oxygen Storage System for Oxygen Supply in Low-Resource Settings

Respir Care. 2017 Dec;62(12):1582-1587. doi: 10.4187/respcare.05532. Epub 2017 Sep 26.


Background: Widespread access to medical oxygen would reduce global pneumonia mortality. Oxygen concentrators are one proposed solution, but they have limitations, in particular vulnerability to electricity fluctuations and failure during blackouts. The low-pressure oxygen storage system addresses these limitations in low-resource settings. This study reports testing of the system in Melbourne, Australia, and nonclinical field testing in Mbarara, Uganda.

Methods: The system included a power-conditioning unit, a standard oxygen concentrator, and an oxygen store. In Melbourne, pressure and flows were monitored during cycles of filling/emptying, with forced voltage fluctuations. The bladders were tested by increasing pressure until they ruptured. In Mbarara, the system was tested by accelerated cycles of filling/emptying and then run on grid power for 30 d.

Results: The low-pressure oxygen storage system performed well, including sustaining a pressure approximately twice the standard working pressure before rupture of the outer bag. Flow of 1.2 L/min was continuously maintained to a simulated patient during 30 d on grid power, despite power failures totaling 2.9% of the total time, with durations of 1-176 min (mean 36.2, median 18.5).

Conclusions: The low-pressure oxygen storage system was robust and durable, with accelerated testing equivalent to at least 2 y of operation revealing no visible signs of imminent failure. Despite power cuts, the system continuously provided oxygen, equivalent to the treatment of one child, for 30 d under typical power conditions for sub-Saharan Africa. The low-pressure oxygen storage system is ready for clinical field trials.

Keywords: LMIC; child; hypoxia; infant; oxygen concentrator; pneumonia; preschool.

MeSH terms

  • Compressed Air / supply & distribution*
  • Developing Countries*
  • Electric Power Supplies / supply & distribution*
  • Health Resources
  • Humans
  • Oxygen / supply & distribution*
  • Oxygen Inhalation Therapy / methods*
  • Pneumonia / therapy
  • Pressure
  • Uganda
  • Victoria


  • Oxygen