An oxygen generator is a device that produces oxygen on demand, usually through the use of inorganic reactions. There are several types of oxygen generators but each depends on thermal reactions to produce oxygen. This causes the generator to become very hot, between 500 and 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit, and can present a serious fire hazard if mishandled. There have in fact been several situations in which people have died due to oxygen generator explosions. However, they are still used in various situations in which there is need for oxygen immediately, and therefore worth the risk.
Chemical Oxygen Generators
Chemical oxygen generators are the most popular type and are used in airplanes, rescue kits, and by firefighters. Chemical oxygen generators are usually very small and contain several chemicals. An oxidizer core made of sodium chlorate is mixed with barium peroxide and potassium perchlorate. The explosive materials lead styphnate and tetrazene surround this to produce oxygen for up to 20 minutes. In airplanes, these generators are either installed on the rear of each seat or rigged to drop down from the ceiling when a decrease in cabin pressure is detected. When the passenger picks up the mask, the retaining pins in the generator fall out and trigger the production and release of oxygen.
Oxygen candles are cylindrical containers that house a mixture of sodium chlorate and iron powder. When a user ignites the candle, the iron becomes very hot and produces sodium chloride, iron oxide, and oxygen through a process known as thermal decomposition at a fixed rate for an indefinite amount of time. Oxygen candles are efficient, reliable, relatively safe, and can last for decades without decreasing its oxygen production.
PSA Oxygen Generators
PSA oxygen generators are a relatively new technology and use PSA or Pressure Swing Absorption to separate oxygen from other gases in the air. Because of this, PSA oxygen generators are classified as oxygen concentrators. PSA oxygen generators are rapidly becoming popular among interested industries such as glass blowing, ozone generation, and aquaculture. PSA oxygen generators use a substance known as a molecular sieve to absorb nitrogen and other gases while allowing oxygen to pass through in an almost oxygen-pure gas.
Applications of Oxygen Generators
There are many different circumstances in which oxygen must be produced in a short amount of time for a long period of time. For example, oxygen generators are used on space shuttles as well as the International Space Station to provide astronauts with enough oxygen to finish their task and return safely to Earth. Firefighters, mine rescue crews, and veterinarians also use oxygen generators. It is used in hospitals, submarines, and agriculture. The most popular oxygen generators, however, can be found on airplanes of any size.
Where To Find Oxygen Generators
Oxygen generators can be found in nearly any industrial store, especially in places that also sell mining equipment, sports gear, or medical appliances. Oxygen generators can also be found online in common markets such as eBay, Amazon, and Paypal Shopping. Likewise, oxygen generators are sold by less well-known online stores such as OxAir, Inogen, and OxLife.