The Importance of Certified Oxygen Filtration in Oxygen-Enriched Environments
Posted on November 10th, 2022
Without properly certified products, an oxygen-enriched environment can be highly hazardous.
Oxygen-enriched environments are necessary for a wide range of applications. For example, both the medical and industrial fields have applications that rely on a high percentage of oxygen in the gas for their patients and end products. Unfortunately, without properly certified gas treatment equipment installed and maintained in a system, serious problems can occur.
What is an Oxygen-Enriched Environment?
About 21% of the Earth’s atmosphere is oxygen. Many applications require the oxygen percentage in a compressed gas to be anywhere from 21% to as high as 100%. Once the oxygen level is greater than 23.5% it is considered an oxygen-enriched environment., The hazard caused by elevated Oxygen levels is called oxygen enrichment. The exact concentration threshold varies by industry and monitoring standards. For example:
- 21% or higher for the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)
- 22% or higher for The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA)
- 5% or higher for The Compressed Gas Association (CGA)
- 25% or higher for The United States Military
Uses for Oxygen-Enriched Gas
Many applications require the use of an oxygen-enriched environment. A few examples include:
- Food & Beverage
- Glass and Ceramics Production
- Pulp and Paper
- Wastewater Treatment
Oxygen is unique because its benefits can vary so widely among industries. For example, it is highly flammable, which aids the steelmaking and glass production industries in speeding up production. Meanwhile, in the wastewater treatment industry, adding oxygen into the treatment process speeds up the growth of bacteria, accelerating the biodegradation process.
When the oxygen level in a gas reaches and/or exceeds the oxygen enrichment threshold, it becomes progressively more flammable. Not only do fires start more quickly, but they burn hotter and are harder to put out. Special precautions should be taken for grease and oil which are already flammable under normal conditions. Even other materials, such as metals and textiles, could be at risk of catching on fire.
Hazards related to Oxygen enrichment are not always contained within a carefully planned generator system. In fact, hazards can present themselves inside a facility due to a leaking piping, poor planning, inadequate ventilation, or even a drain valve not closed properly. In addition, explosions and fires can occur when the proper safety precautions are neglected.
When generating oxygen, some of the precautions that should be taken include:
- Choosing the properly certified equipment
- Maintaining and servicing equipment regularly
- Avoiding smoking in the area
- Ensuring proper ventilation
- Using the products only for their intended use
Perhaps most importantly, always verify that gas treatment and gas system products are designed for your intended use. For instance, explosions and fires can occur while using standard compressed air products for Oxygen service. If you are ever in doubt about the safety of a product for oxygen use, contact the manufacturer.
Oxygen Certified Products
Including oxygen-certified products in an oxygen-enriched system can offer a reliable and efficient flow of oxygen that is free of liquid, vapour, and other contaminants. In addition, oxygen-certified products are designed to exclude potentially flammable components and eliminate other safety concerns. For example, at Walker Filtration, our oxygen filter design includes a unique Viton O-ring. Standard O-rings in the market are potentially flammable in oxygen-enriched environments.
At Walker Filtration, we offer oxygen filters that are manufactured, cleaned, and packaged in accordance with ASTM G93 / G93M to guarantee that our customers’ compressed gas is free from hazards. Avoid any compressed air filter safety concerns by using our oxygen-certified products in your oxygen system. Contact our sales team today for a quote.
*While stated classifications specify the required percentage of oxygen content for the gas to be qualified as oxygen-enriched, they do not underestimate the importance of oxygen safety standards.