The Hyderabad based startup, The Phi Factory, has developed a portable oxygenarator, Project Vayuputra. This cost-effective solution intends to provide oxygen to the COVID-19 patients who are under home isolation.
Amid the rising COVID-19 cases, India is facing an acute shortage of per capita medical oxygen supply. People are helplessly looking out for arranging oxygen while their loved ones are battling for it. The team of Phi Factory, including Co-Founders Meghana Reddy Jale and Praveen Gorakavi, has come to the rescue of the patients by developing a portable oxygenerator, Vayuputra. This innovative and cost-effective solution intends to provide oxygen to the COVID-19 patients who are under home isolation. “During home isolation, in case a patient’s oxygen saturation level drops, he or she is then admitted to the nearest hospital. This might take anywhere between 30 to 90 minutes. But during this transit, many people are losing their lives due to the lack of oxygen. This situation can be avoided by using Vayuputra,” Praveen Gorakavi explained.
Gorakavi shared how one can need adequate oxygen supply during the transit time between hospitals. However, these concentrators are heftily priced at Rs 90,000 and people cannot afford them. Neither these concentrators are readily available in the market nor it is easy to refill the available O2 cylinders due to the stressed supply chain. This makes it further difficult to save lives in critical situations. PM Sai Prasad, co-founder, Makershive Innovations, shared that they approached Gorakavi with the idea of developing something to tackle the shortage of oxygen supply. The latter worked on Project Vayuputra, an oxygenerator kit, that turned out to be a cost-effective and scalable solution. The in-situ catalytic microreactor in it cleaves the oxygen molecules from commercially available molecules to produce medical grade oxygen. The primary element used is Hydrogen Peroxide because it is inexpensive and easily available. Additionally, it is safe for domestic use after using specific gloves to handle it.
Gorakavi explained that when hydrogen peroxide passes through a catalytic bed of metal oxide, it decomposes into water and oxygen. One litre of 50 percent concentrated hydrogen peroxide can easily produce around 240 litres of oxygen. This can save two lives with 10 ltr/min of oxygen at merely Rs 2500. The device presents a sharp contrast to the price of concentrators available in the market. As for the hydrogen peroxide bottles, they can be replaced once they are used up at Rs 1,500. Gorakavi also mentioned that the Vayuputra comes fixed with a two-litre bottle of hydrogen peroxide making it usable for 48 minutes per bottle. The oxygenerator kit would cost around Rs 2500 including ten two-litre bottles of hydrogen peroxide.
After The Phi Factory put the information about Project Vayuputra on their social media pages, they have been receiving an excellent response. Around 45,000 individuals across the country have already reached out to them. Many government organisations and NGOs contacted them regarding the product. Gorakavi said that the government is doing its best to contain the spread of the virus and ease the situation. As for industry collaborators, they are helping them in as many ways as possible. He further added that they are in the process of getting approvals from medical associations. Besides that, they are already geared up with sources of Peroxide, manufacturers, logistic partners, financing partners, volunteers, etc. “Although we are aiming to bring the product to market by 15th May, it may take a little longer as the statutory testing and regulatory approval is expected to take time,” Gorakavi explained.
Responding to the question of whether any pilot run is conducted for Project Vayuputra, Gorakavi shared that it’s done. They are consistently clocking 96 +/- 3% Oxygen levels. The team has been in touch with reputed companies for manufacturing the product. They are also open sourcing this technology to various medical device manufacturers who are following good manufacturing practices. This would decentralise the manufacturing of the oxygenerator and supply to maximum beneficiaries. The team is aiming to scale up the production and provide timely intervention in times of desperate need. Although the model is replicable, Gorakavi suggests people access the design directly. He said that once the product goes into commercial production, they can make about 50,000 to one lakh units in a short time.