Membrane for the production of oxygen enriched air
Background Many elderly and sick people require oxygen-enriched air to facilitate breathing. Unfortunately, oxygen tanks are heavy and need to be refilled, limiting their convenience. Further, portable oxygen generators/concentrators (which generate oxygen from the surrounding air) are prohibitively expensive, large and cumbersome, and inefficient in terms of power.
Invention Description Medical applications do not require oxygen concentrations above 28%; thus, a membrane for enriching the oxygen content in air does not require a very high oxygen/nitrogen selectivity. Historically, the low permeability of membranes has prevented oxygen enrichment without a powerful driving force, which essentially offsets the convenience and weight savings of utilizing portable, on-site oxygen generating systems. However, membranes created using Dr. Freeman's invention are more than ten times more permeable than currently utilized technologies, suggesting that it is appropriate for consumer applications that require a highly portable, efficient, and low-power oxygen solution.
Convenient, on-site oxygen enrichment Power efficient Increased mobility
Portable oxygen generation Increased permeability (10x)
Requires less driving force (power) than current membranes Lightweight
Market Potential/Applications More than 2 million Americans require oxygen therapy at home. And with the aging of the baby-boomer generation, more cases of asthma and bronchitis result in a greater need for a convenient source of oxygen. The market for oxygen generators is estimated to generate annual revenues of over $250 million with steady growth.
Development Stage Lab/bench prototype
IP Status One U.S. patent application filed
UT Researcher Benny D. Freeman, Ph.D., Chemical Engineering, The University of Texas at Austin Haiqing Lin, Ph.D., Chemical Engineering, The University of Texas at Austin Scott T. Matteucci, B.S., Chemical Engineering, The University of Texas at Austin
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