Medical Gas FAQ
To better assist you, we have tried to answer the most frequently asked questions you may have about our products and services.
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There are many pumps that can be used successfully, and the choice of which one is best depends on the particular concerns that are most relevant to the owner. A summary chart of the technologies and their pluses and minuses can be found in the vacuum section of the website.
Medical air is distinguished from simple compressed air by the absence of contaminant gases and particulates, by containing no oil or odor, and by being dry enough to ensure that liquid water never forms in the piping. Because it is easiest and most cost effective to achieve this with oil free and oil less technology, compressors such as the scroll, oil-less reciprocating and oil free tooth machines are strongly preferred. That is not to say that oil lubricated machines and liquid ring machines cannot be used successfully in the production of medical air (where permitted by local standard) but only that we have demonstrated that oil-less and oil free technologies serve our customers better in most respects.
We do not understand that medical air gains any therapeutic value by being drier than necessary. "Necessary" is a dryness low enough to preclude the formation of liquid water under any circumstance likely to occur in the piping. Below that level it wastes money and energy to over-dry the air, and has the therapeutic disadvantage of requiring rehydration before it can be breathed without patient risk. Some standards have set a dew point level which is based on the dew point achieved by a standard off-the-shelf desiccant dryer (-40°), not on a therapeutic benefit to patients. NFPA has taken a more enlightened approach and has simply required "a dew point below frost point" (i.e. <0°C) which seems more clinically appropriate and economically advantageous for most facilities.
Where standards for air purity exist, or the air contains noxious components, it is clearly sine qua non to bring the air to that level by removal of those noxious components before using air to treat patients. Beyond that, air that is clean and free of liquid water is the critical elements that must be achieved for the system to operate well. Generally speaking, ambient outdoor air will meet most standards for medical air purity so long as we do not contaminate it in the compressor. Some international standards, particularly those based on ISO 7396 require purification. NFPA and CSA do not except where the air cannot otherwise meet the USP standard.
NFPA does not prohibit refrigerant dryers. It speaks to the required dew point which is "a dew point below frost point at line pressure". It is possible to achieve this using a refrigerant dryer, but it requires the refrigerant dryer be operated in a manner which is absolutely perfect. The simple fact is that few if any refrigerant dryers will reliably deliver dew point at such an ideal level. As a practical matter, BeaconMedæs and others have moved away from them as a preferred technology.
No simple answer applies here. Each of the systems has advantages and disadvantages. Have your BeaconMedæs representative bring by some samples and chat with them about the strengths of each type so you can make an informed decision. Go to our Directory and find the representative for your area.
Clearly, this is not a question that can be answered here. Please refer to Chapter 11 of the "BeaconMedæs Medical Gas Design Guide”, where we deal with that question in detail. Please sign up so you can view our Design guide and read more on this subject.
We have corrected a significant error in the vacuum sizing found in Chapter 11, April 2010 version (Our thanks to Mr. Paul Telford of MAZZETTI NASH LIPSEY BURCH, San Francisco). This corrected chapter is posted here on the website (see Publications) and it's very important you update this chapter in your Guide.
Beyond this, if you have an old edition, you will find Chapter 2, 4, 5, 8, 9, 11, 12 and 13 have all undergone changes in 2010, and you should check to make sure your Guide is up-to-date.
The Guide is undergoing revisions now to reflect changes that we expect to see in the NFPA 99 2012. These changes reflect product improvements and address other changes requested by users. The overall revision will be an ongoing process through 2011 with the goal of having the most up-to-date guide available to you.