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Title:
OXYGEN CONCENTRATOR WITH MOISTURE MANAGEMENT
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2021/206628
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
An oxygen concentrator (100) may have a moisture conditioning system. In some implementations, the concentrator includes a compressor to induce feed gas into the concentrator. A first pathway may receive the feed gas from the compression system. The first pathway may be configured to draw moisture to produce moisture reduced feed gas. The first pathway may lead the moisture reduced feed gas to sieve bed(s) which produce oxygen enriched air with the moisture reduced feed gas. An accumulator may be configured to receive the produced oxygen enriched air from the sieve bed(s). A second pathway from the accumulator may apply the drawn-out moisture to the produced enriched air to produce humidified enriched air. A third pathway may transfer the drawn-out moisture from the first pathway to the second pathway. An outlet coupled with the second pathway may release the humidified enriched air from the concentrator for a user.

Inventors:
DALISAY KEITH RENIER BRIGOLA (SG)
KOH SIEW YING (SG)
TAN JOO POH (SG)
CHUA HWEE SENG (SG)
KING ROBERT JOHN (AU)
YUEN STEPHEN (AU)
SADIKAY AISHA (SG)
NAVARRO REX DAEL (SG)
MIARALIPOUR SHAYAN (AU)
Application Number:
PCT/SG2021/050169
Publication Date:
October 14, 2021
Filing Date:
March 26, 2021
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
RESMED ASIA PTE LTD (SG)
International Classes:
A61M16/10; A62B7/02
Domestic Patent References:
WO2015015852A12015-02-05
WO2011058371A12011-05-19
WO2006007511A22006-01-19
WO2014059409A12014-04-17
Foreign References:
US20090205493A12009-08-20
US20050161043A12005-07-28
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
DAVIES COLLISON CAVE ASIA PTE. LTD. (SG)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

1. An oxygen concentrator comprising: a compression system, including a motor operated compressor, configured to induce a flow of a feed gas into the oxygen concentrator; one or more sieve beds coupled with the compression system, a first pathway from the compression system, the first pathway configured to receive the feed gas from the compression system, the first pathway configured to draw out moisture from the feed gas to produce moisture reduced feed gas, the first pathway further configured to lead the moisture reduced feed gas to the one or more sieve beds; wherein the one or more sieve beds are configured to produce oxygen enriched air with the moisture reduced feed gas; an accumulator configured to receive the produced oxygen enriched air from the one or more sieve beds; a second pathway from the accumulator, the second pathway configured to apply the drawn-out moisture to the produced oxygen enriched air to produce humidified oxygen enriched air; a third pathway configured to transfer the drawn-out moisture from the first pathway to the second pathway; and an outlet coupled with the second pathway and configured to release the humidified oxygen enriched air from the oxygen concentrator for a user.

2. The oxygen concentrator of claim 1 wherein the first pathway is configured to induce a centrifugal flow of the feed gas received from the compression system to separate moisture from the feed gas.

3. The oxygen concentrator of any one of claims 1 to 2 wherein the first pathway comprises a helical flow path.

4. The oxygen concentrator of any one of claims 1 to 3 wherein the first pathway comprises one or more of (a) a spin inducer, (b) one or more flow directors, and (c) a volute.

5. The oxygen concentrator of any one of claims 1 to 4 wherein the first pathway comprises a tapered vortex.

6. The oxygen concentrator of any one of claims 1 to 5 wherein the first pathway comprises a moisture wick to draw out moisture from the feed gas.

7. The oxygen concentrator of any one of claims 1 to 6 wherein the first pathway comprises a surface of a water vapor permeable membrane.

8. The oxygen concentrator of any one of claims 1 to 7 wherein the first pathway comprises a condenser.

9. The oxygen concentrator of claim 8 wherein the condenser comprises a condensing material.

10. The oxygen concentrator of claim 9 wherein the condenser comprises a condensing coil.

11. The oxygen concentrator of claim 10 further comprising a circulator to circulate a fluid within the condensing coil.

12. The oxygen concentrator of any one of claims 1 to 11 wherein the second pathway comprises a containment tank configured as a pass over humidifier.

13. The oxygen concentrator of claim 12 wherein the third pathway is configured to transfer the drawn-out moisture to the containment tank.

14. The oxygen concentrator of claim 13 wherein the third pathway further comprises one or more liquid transport components, the one or more liquid transport components comprising one or more of (a) a valve; (b) a conduit, and (c) a pump, wherein the one or more liquid transport components are configured to induce the transfer of the drawn-out moisture to the containment tank.

15. The oxygen concentrator of any one of claims 13 to 14 wherein the third pathway comprises one or more conduits.

16. The oxygen concentrator of any one of claims 1 to 15 wherein the first pathway is formed as a concentric helix comprising a plurality of layers.

17. The oxygen concentrator of claim 16 wherein a first layer of the plurality of layers comprises a condenser material.

18. The oxygen concentrator of claim 17 wherein a second layer of the plurality of layers comprises a wicking material.

19. The oxygen concentrator of any one of claims 16 to 18 wherein the plurality of layers comprise an inner layer and an outer layer.

20. The oxygen concentrator of any one of claims 16 to 19 wherein the plurality of layers further comprises a water vapor permeable membrane.

21. The oxygen concentrator of claim 20 wherein an inner surface of the water vapor permeable membrane forms a cylindrical surface around the plurality of layers of the concentric helix.

22. The oxygen concentrator of claim 21 wherein an outer surface of the water vapor permeable membrane forms a collector in the second pathway.

23. An oxygen concentrator configured to remove moisture from a feed gas that is then applied to a gas adsorption process of the oxygen concentrator and to reapply the removed moisture to an oxygen enriched air that is accumulated from the gas adsorption process.

24. A portable oxygen concentrator apparatus comprising: means for gas separation; means for feeding a feed gas into the means for gas separation; accumulation means for receiving oxygen enriched air from the means for gas separation; dehumidifying means for removing moisture from the feed gas; humidifying means for recycling the removed moisture to humidify the oxygen enriched air; and outlet means for providing the humidified oxygen enriched air to a user.

Description:
OXYGEN CONCENTRATOR WITH MOISTURE MANAGEMENT

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

[0001] The present disclosure claims priority from Singapore Patent Application Serial No. 10202003154R, filed on 6 APRIL, 2020, the entire disclosure of which is hereby incorporated herein by reference.

FIELD OF THE TECHNOLOGY

[0002] The present technology relates generally to methods and apparatus for treating respiratory disorders, such as those involving gas adsorption or controlled pressure and/or vacuum swing adsorption. Such methods and apparatus may be implemented in an oxygen concentrator including one or more components to provide oxygen enriched air conditioned with moisture.

BACKGROUND

The human respiratory system and its disorders

[0003] The respiratory system of the body facilitates gas exchange. The nose and mouth form the entrance to the airways of a patient.

[0004] The airways include a series of branching tubes, which become narrower, shorter and more numerous as they penetrate deeper into the lung. The prime function of the lung is gas exchange, allowing oxygen to move from the inhaled air into the venous blood and carbon dioxide to move in the opposite direction. The trachea divides into right and left main bronchi, which further divide eventually into terminal bronchioles. The bronchi make up the conducting airways, and do not take part in gas exchange. Further divisions of the airways lead to the respiratory bronchioles, and eventually to the alveoli. The alveolated region of the lung is where the gas exchange takes place, and is referred to as the respiratory zone. See “Respiratory Physiology”, by John B. West, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 9th edition published 2012. [0005] A range of respiratory disorders exist. Examples of respiratory disorders include respiratory failure, Obesity Hyperventilation Syndrome (OHS), Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), Neuromuscular Disease (NMD) and Chest wall disorders.

[0006] Respiratory failure is an umbrella term for respiratory disorders in which the lungs are unable to inspire sufficient oxygen or exhale sufficient CO2 to meet the patient’s needs. Respiratory failure may encompass some or all of the following disorders. [0007] A patient with respiratory insufficiency (a form of respiratory failure) may experience abnormal shortness of breath on exercise.

[0008] Obesity Hyperventilation Syndrome (OHS) is defined as the combination of severe obesity and awake chronic hypercapnia, in the absence of other known causes for hypoventilation. Symptoms include dyspnea, morning headache and excessive daytime sleepiness.

[0009] Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) encompasses any of a group of lower airway diseases that have certain characteristics in common. These include increased resistance to air movement, extended expiratory phase of respiration, and loss of the normal elasticity of the lung. Examples of COPD are emphysema and chronic bronchitis. COPD is caused by chronic tobacco smoking (primary risk factor), occupational exposures, air pollution and genetic factors. Symptoms include: dyspnea on exertion, chronic cough and sputum production.

[0010] Neuromuscular Disease (NMD) is a broad term that encompasses many diseases and ailments that impair the functioning of the muscles either directly via intrinsic muscle pathology, or indirectly via nerve pathology. Some NMD patients are characterised by progressive muscular impairment leading to loss of ambulation, being wheelchair-bound, swallowing difficulties, respiratory muscle weakness and, eventually, death from respiratory failure. Neuromuscular disorders can be divided into rapidly progressive and slowly progressive: (i) Rapidly progressive disorders: Characterised by muscle impairment that worsens over months and results in death within a few years (e.g. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) in teenagers); (ii) Variable or slowly progressive disorders: Characterised by muscle impairment that worsens over years and only mildly reduces life expectancy (e.g. Limb girdle, Facioscapulohumeral and Myotonic muscular dystrophy). Symptoms of respiratory failure in NMD include: increasing generalised weakness, dysphagia, dyspnea on exertion and at rest, fatigue, sleepiness, morning headache, and difficulties with concentration and mood changes.

[0011] Chest wall disorders are a group of thoracic deformities that result in inefficient coupling between the respiratory muscles and the thoracic cage. The disorders are usually characterised by a restrictive defect and share the potential of long term hypercapnic respiratory failure. Scoliosis and/or kyphoscoliosis may cause severe respiratory failure. Symptoms of respiratory failure include: dyspnea on exertion, peripheral oedema, orthopnea, repeated chest infections, morning headaches, fatigue, poor sleep quality and loss of appetite.

Therapies

[0012] Various respiratory therapies have been used to treat one or more of the above respiratory disorders.

Respiratory pressure therapies

[0013] Respiratory pressure therapy is the application of a supply of air to an entrance to the airways at a controlled target pressure that is nominally positive with respect to atmosphere throughout the patient’s breathing cycle (in contrast to negative pressure therapies such as the tank ventilator or cuirass).

[0014] Non-invasive ventilation (NIV) provides ventilatory support to a patient through the upper airways to assist the patient breathing and/or maintain adequate oxygen levels in the body by doing some or all of the work of breathing. The ventilatory support is provided via a non-invasive patient interface. NIV has been used to treat respiratory failure, in forms such as OHS, COPD, NMD and Chest Wall disorders. In some forms, the comfort and effectiveness of these therapies may be improved.

[0015] Invasive ventilation (IV) provides ventilatory support to patients that are no longer able to effectively breathe themselves and may be provided using a tracheostomy tube. In some forms, the comfort and effectiveness of these therapies may be improved.

Flow therapies

[0016] Not all respiratory therapies aim to deliver a prescribed therapeutic pressure. Some respiratory therapies aim to deliver a prescribed respiratory volume, by delivering an inspiratory flow rate profile over a targeted duration, possibly superimposed on a positive baseline pressure. In other cases, the interface to the patient’s airways is ‘open’ (unsealed) and the respiratory therapy may only supplement the patient’s own spontaneous breathing with a flow of conditioned or enriched air. In one example, High Flow therapy (HFT) is the provision of a continuous, heated, humidified flow of air to an entrance to the airway through an unsealed or open patient interface at a “treatment flow rate” that is held approximately constant throughout the respiratory cycle. The treatment flow rate is nominally set to exceed the patient’s peak inspiratory flow rate. HFT has been used to treat respiratory failure, COPD, and other respiratory disorders. One mechanism of action is that the high flow rate of air at the airway entrance improves ventilation efficiency by flushing, or washing out, expired CO2 from the patient’s anatomical deadspace. Hence, HFT is thus sometimes referred to as a deadspace therapy (DST). Other benefits may include the elevated warmth and humidification (possibly of benefit in secretion management) and the potential for modest elevation of airway pressures. As an alternative to constant flow rate, the treatment flow rate may follow a profile that varies over the respiratory cycle.

[0017] Another form of flow therapy is long-term oxygen therapy (LTOT) or supplemental oxygen therapy. Doctors may prescribe a continuous flow of oxygen enriched air at a specified oxygen concentration (from 21%, the oxygen fraction in ambient air, to 100%) at a specified flow rate (e.g., 1 litre per minute (LPM), 2 LPM, 3 LPM, etc.) to be delivered to the patient’s airway.

Respiratory Therapy Systems

[0018] These respiratory therapies may be provided by a respiratory therapy system or device. Such systems and devices may also be used to screen, diagnose, or monitor a condition without treating it.

[0019] A respiratory therapy system may comprise an oxygen source, an air circuit, and a patient interface.

Patient Interface

[0020] A patient interface may be used to interface respiratory equipment to its wearer, for example by providing a flow of air to an entrance to the airways. The flow of air may be provided via a mask to the nose and/or mouth, a tube to the mouth or a tracheostomy tube to the trachea of a patient. Depending upon the therapy to be applied, the patient interface may form a seal, e.g., with a region of the patient's face, to facilitate the delivery of gas at a pressure at sufficient variance with ambient pressure to effect therapy, e.g., at a positive pressure of about 10 cm FLO relative to ambient pressure. For other forms of therapy, such as the delivery of oxygen, the patient interface may not include a seal sufficient to facilitate delivery to the airways of a supply of gas at a positive pressure of about 10 cm FLO. For flow therapies such as nasal LTOT, the patient interface is configured to insufflate the nares but specifically to avoid a complete seal. One example of such a patient interface is a nasal cannula.

[0021] An oxygen concentrator may control oxygen enriched air release in a pulsed or demand mode. This may be achieved by delivering the oxygen as a series of pulses, where each pulse or “bolus” may be timed to coincide with inspiration. Such a mode is typically controlled by actuating a pneumatic valve that releases oxygen enriched air for a fixed time. The fixed time is calibrated to be associated with a desired or target bolus volume. However, as such a fixed-time bolus release process does not always achieve the target bolus volume (e.g., due to system characteristics such as compressor variability, as well as aspects of the adsorption process such as the PSA cycle, sieve bed condition, air filter condition etc.), the pneumatic valve may also be operated in a variable manner to regulate the delivered bolus volume more closely to the target volume.

Air circuit

[0022] An air circuit is a conduit or a tube constructed and arranged to allow, in use, a flow of breathable gas to travel between two components of a respiratory therapy system such as the oxygen source and the patient interface. In some cases, there may be separate limbs of the air circuit for inhalation and exhalation. In other cases, a single limb air circuit is used for both inhalation and exhalation.

Oxygen source

[0023] Experts in this field have recognized that exercise for respiratory failure patients provides long term benefits that slow the progression of the disease, improve quality of life and extend patient longevity. Most stationary forms of exercise like tread mills and stationary bicycles, however, are too strenuous for these patients. As a result, the need for mobility has long been recognized. Until recently, this mobility has been facilitated by the use of small compressed oxygen tanks or cylinders mounted on a cart with dolly wheels. The disadvantage of these tanks is that they contain a finite amount of oxygen and are heavy, weighing about 50 pounds when mounted.

[0024] Oxygen concentrators have been in use for about 50 years to supply oxygen for respiratory therapy. Traditional oxygen concentrators have been bulky and heavy making ordinary ambulatory activities with them difficult and impractical. Recently, companies that manufacture large stationary oxygen concentrators began developing portable oxygen concentrators (POCs). The advantage of POCs is that they can produce a theoretically endless supply of oxygen. In order to make these devices small for mobility, the various systems necessary for the production of oxygen enriched air are condensed. POCs seek to utilize their produced oxygen as efficiently as possible, in order to minimise weight, size, and power consumption. This may be achieved by delivering the oxygen as series of pulses or “boluses,” each bolus timed to coincide with the onset of inhalation. Such a mode of operation may be implemented with a conserver. The therapy mode is known as pulsed oxygen delivery (POD) or demand mode, in contrast with traditional continuous flow delivery more suited to stationary oxygen concentrators.

[0025] Oxygen concentrators may implement processes such as vacuum swing adsorption (VSA), pressure swing adsorption (PSA), or vacuum pressure swing adsorption (VPSA). For example, oxygen concentrators, e.g., POCs, may work based on depressurization (e.g., vacuum operation) and/or pressurization (e.g., compressor operation) in a swing adsorption process (e.g., Vacuum Swing Adsorption VSA, Pressure Swing Adsorption PSA or Vacuum Pressure Swing Adsorption VPSA, each of which are referred to herein as a “swing adsorption process”). For example, an oxygen concentrator may control a process of pressure swing adsorption (PSA). Pressure swing adsorption involves using a compressor to increase gas pressure inside a canister that contains particles of a gas separation adsorbent that attracts nitrogen more strongly than it does oxygen. Such a canister when containing a mass of gas separation adsorbent such as a layer of gas separation adsorbent may serve as a sieve bed. As the pressure increases, certain molecules in the gas may become adsorbed onto the gas separation adsorbent. Removal of a portion of the gas in the canister under the pressurized conditions allows separation of the non-adsorbed molecules from the adsorbed molecules. The adsorbed molecules may then be desorbed by venting the sieve beds. Further details regarding oxygen concentrators may be found, for example, in U.S. Published Patent Application No. 2009-0065007, published March 12, 2009, and entitled “Oxygen Concentrator Apparatus and Method”, which is incorporated herein by reference.

[0026] Ambient air usually includes approximately 78% nitrogen and 21% oxygen with the balance comprised of argon, carbon dioxide, water vapor and other trace gases. If a feed gas mixture such as air, for example, is passed under pressure through a canister containing a gas separation adsorbent that attracts nitrogen more strongly than it does oxygen, part or all of the nitrogen will stay in the canister, and the gas coming out of the canister will be enriched in oxygen. When the sieve bed reaches the end of its capacity to adsorb nitrogen, it can be regenerated by reducing the pressure, thereby releasing the adsorbed nitrogen. It is then ready for another “PSA cycle” of producing oxygen enriched air. By alternating pressurization cycles of the canisters in a two-canister system, one canister can be concentrating oxygen (the so-called “adsorption phase”) while the other canister is being purged (the “purge phase”). This alternation results in a near-continuous separation of the oxygen from the nitrogen. In this manner, oxygen can be continuously concentrated out of the air for a variety of uses include providing LTOT to users.

[0027] Vacuum swing adsorption (VSA) provides an alternative gas separation technique. VSA typically draws the gas through the separation process of the sieve beds using a vacuum such as a compressor configured to create a vacuum within the sieve beds. Vacuum Pressure Swing Adsorption (VPSA) may be understood to be a hybrid system using a combined vacuum and pressurization technique. For example, a VPSA system may pressurize the sieve beds for the separation process and also apply a vacuum for depressurizing the sieve beds.

[0028] Even if the sieve beds are alternated according to the PSA, VSA, or VPSA processes discussed above, they will ultimately retain some of the adsorbed nitrogen after every cycle. As a result, the overall capacity of a sieve bed to adsorb nitrogen will decrease with use, eventually requiring the sieve beds to be replaced.

[0029] A typical adsorbent material used in air separation is called zeolite. For medical oxygen generators (such as portable oxygen concentrators), a common type of zeolite is Li-LSX, a low silica high lithium exchanged zeolite, which has a high affinity for Nitrogen (N 2 ). However, the high polarity of the Li-LSX zeolite also increases its affinity for polar molecules, such as water. The water may be in the form of a gas such as water vapor and/or a liquid such as moisture or condensed water vapor. As zeolite adsorbs water, its affinity for nitrogen significantly decreases, since its adsorption sites will be occupied by moisture.

[0030] A standard practice to tackle this problem is to dry the air prior to feeding it into the sieve bed. This can be achieved by utilizing a guard layer which adsorbs the water. With a correct material choice, effective sizing of the guard layer and PSA/VPSA cycle tuning, water ingress into the sieve bed can be managed.

[0031] Thus, moisture (or water) management within a portable oxygen generator (POC) is important. In particular, the presence of moisture can deactivate the sieve beds in the POC. As such, it is advantageous to minimize moisture in the air that enters the sieve beds. Furthermore, when oxygen enriched air is delivered to a patient, the flow of oxygen enriched air may cause drying of airways, thereby causing discomfort. As such, it may be advantageous to humidify the flow of oxygen enriched air to minimize drying of the nasal mucosa and increase patient airway comfort.

SUMMARY OF THE TECHNOLOGY

[0032] Examples of the present technology may provide an apparatus for an oxygen concentrator, such as a portable oxygen concentrator (POC). In particular, the technology provides methods and apparatus for a portable oxygen concentrator having one or more components to manage moisture within the apparatus.

[0033] Thus, some implementations of the present technology may relate to a moisture management system for a POC. Generally, the moisture management system may include any one or more of (i) a moisture separation sub-system (MS) or separator; (ii) a moisture transport sub-system (MT) or aqueduct; and (iii) a moisture containment module (MC) or reservoir. [0034] The aforementioned sub- systems may be integrated into an existing POC 100 system. In some implementations, the moisture management system may be implemented to recycle moisture, such that moisture is removed from the intake air or feed gas, using the separator or

MS. Advantageously, the sieve beds which otherwise may be deactivated by moisture may have a longer shelf life because of the relatively dry air that enters the sieve beds as a result of the moisture separation. The dried air may be passed through the oxygen generation sub system (which typically includes the gas separation adsorbent serving as part of the sieve beds). Subsequently, the previously removed moisture may be transferred, such as via an aqueduct or

MT, to a reservoir or MC. Such a reservoir or MC may be configured to return previously captured moisture to the product gas (i.e. oxygen enriched air) for patient use. Thus, oxygen enriched air that is produced from the sieve beds may be hydrated or humidified prior to release of the oxygen enriched air to the patient or user of the oxygen concentrator.

[0035] Some example implementations of the present technology may include an oxygen concentrator. The oxygen concentrator may include a compression system, which may include a motor operated compressor, configured to induce a flow of a feed gas into the oxygen concentrator. The oxygen concentrator may include one or more sieve beds coupled with the compression system. The oxygen concentrator may include a first pathway from the compression system. The first pathway may be configured to receive the feed gas from the compression system. The first pathway may be configured to draw out moisture from the feed gas to produce moisture reduced feed gas. The first pathway may be further configured to lead the moisture reduced feed gas to the one or more sieve beds. The one or more sieve beds may be configured to produce oxygen enriched air with the moisture reduced feed gas. The oxygen concentrator may include an accumulator configured to receive the produced oxygen enriched air from the one or more sieve beds. The oxygen concentrator may include a second pathway from the accumulator. The second pathway may be configured to apply the drawn-out moisture to the produced oxygen enriched air to produce humidified oxygen enriched air. The oxygen concentrator may include a third pathway configured to transfer the drawn-out moisture from the first pathway to the second pathway. The oxygen concentrator may include an outlet coupled with the second pathway and may be configured to release the humidified oxygen enriched air from the oxygen concentrator for a user.

[0036] In some implementations, the first pathway may be configured to induce a centrifugal flow of the feed gas received from the compression system to separate moisture from the feed gas. The first pathway may include a helical flow path. The first pathway may include one or more of (a) a spin inducer, (b) one or more flow directors, and (c) a volute. The first pathway may include a tapered vortex. The first pathway may include a moisture wick to draw out moisture from the feed gas. The first pathway may include a surface of a water vapor permeable membrane. The first pathway may include a condenser. The condenser may include a condensing material. The condenser may include a condensing coil. The oxygen concentrator may include a circulator to circulate a fluid within the condensing coil. The second pathway may include a containment tank configured as a pass over humidifier. The third pathway may be configured to transfer the drawn-out moisture to the containment tank. The third pathway further may include one or more liquid transport components. The one or more liquid transport components may include one or more of (a) a valve; (b) a conduit, and (c) a pump. The one or more liquid transport components may be configured to induce the transfer of the drawn-out moisture to the containment tank. The third pathway may include one or more conduits.

[0037] In some implementations, the first pathway may be formed as a concentric helix may include a plurality of layers. A first layer of the plurality of layers may include a condenser material. A second layer of the plurality of layers may include a wicking material. The plurality of layers may include an inner layer and an outer layer. The plurality of layers may further include a water vapor permeable membrane. An inner surface of the water vapor permeable membrane may form a cylindrical surface around the plurality of layers of the concentric helix. An outer surface of the water vapor permeable membrane may form a collector in the second pathway.

[0038] In some implementations, an oxygen concentrator may be configured to remove moisture from a feed gas that may be then applied to a gas adsorption process of the oxygen concentrator and to reapply the removed moisture to an oxygen enriched air that may be accumulated from the gas adsorption process.

[0039] In some implementations, a portable oxygen concentrator apparatus may include means for gas separation. The portable oxygen concentrator apparatus may include means for feeding a feed gas into the means for gas separation. The portable oxygen concentrator apparatus may include accumulation means for receiving oxygen enriched air from the means for gas separation. The portable oxygen concentrator apparatus may include dehumidifying means for removing moisture from the feed gas. The portable oxygen concentrator apparatus may include humidifying means for recycling the removed moisture to humidify the oxygen enriched air. The portable oxygen concentrator apparatus may include outlet means for providing the humidified oxygen enriched air to a user.

[0040] Of course, portions of the aspects may form sub-aspects of the present technology. Also, various ones of the sub-aspects and/or aspects may be combined in various manners and also constitute additional aspects or sub-aspects of the present technology.

[0041] Other features of the technology will be apparent from consideration of the information contained in the following detailed description, abstract, drawings and claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0042] Advantages of the present technology will become apparent to those skilled in the art with the benefit of the following detailed description of implementations and upon reference to the accompanying drawings in which:

[0043] Fig. 1 depicts an oxygen concentrator in accordance with one form of the present technology.

[0044] Fig. 2 is a schematic diagram of the components of an oxygen concentrator in accordance with aspects of the technology. [0045] Fig. 3 is a cutaway of an oxygen concentrator in accordance with aspects of the technology.

[0046] Fig. 4 is a perspective side view of a compression system of an oxygen concentrator in accordance with aspects of the technology.

[0047] Fig. 5 is a side view of a compression system, that includes a heat exchange conduit.

[0048] Fig. 6 is a schematic diagram of example outlet components of an oxygen concentrator in accordance with aspects of the technology.

[0049] Fig. 7 depicts an outlet conduit for an oxygen concentrator in accordance with aspects of the technology.

[0050] Fig. 8 depicts an alternate outlet conduit for an oxygen concentrator in accordance with aspects of the technology.

[0051] Fig. 9 is a perspective view of a disassembled canister system for an oxygen concentrator in accordance with aspects of the technology.

[0052] Fig. 10 is an end view of the canister system of Fig. 9.

[0053] Fig. 11 is an assembled view of the canister system end depicted in Fig. 10.

[0054] Fig. 12 is a view of an opposing end of the canister system of Fig. 9 to that depicted in Figs. 10 and 11.

[0055] Fig. 13 is an assembled view of the canister system end depicted in Fig. 12.

[0056] Fig. 14 depicts an example control panel for an oxygen concentrator in accordance with aspects of the technology.

[0057] Fig. 15 depicts an example removable canister assembly for an oxygen concentrator in accordance with aspects of the technology.

[0058] Fig. 16A depicts the canister assembly of Fig. 15 installed in a compartment of an oxygen concentrator via a portal to the compartment in accordance with aspects of the technology.

[0059] Fig. 16B depicts the compartment of the oxygen concentrator of FIG. 16A without the canister assembly of Fig. 15 via a portal to the compartment.

[0060] Fig. 16C depicts the oxygen concentrator of FIG. 16A with an optional removable lid attached to the housing and enclosing the portal to the compartment. [0061] Fig. 17 depicts an implementation of an oxygen concentrator with components for moisture conditioning of oxygen enriched air produced by the concentrator in accordance with aspects of the present technology.

[0062] Fig. 18 shows an example moisture conditioning system employing an example centrifuge separator, an aqueduct for moisture transport and a pass-over humidifier.

[0063] Fig. 19 shows another example moisture conditioning system employing an example centrifuge separator similar to that of Fig. 18 that also includes a condenser.

[0064] Fig. 20 shows another implementation of an example of a moisture conditioning system similar to the implementation of Fig. 18 employing a closer integration of the separator and humidifier.

[0065] Fig. 21 A is a side view cross sectional illustration of an example centrifuge separator employing a helical configuration.

[0066] Fig. 21B is a plan view cross sectional illustration of the separator of Fig. 21A. [0067] Fig. 22 is a side view cross sectional illustration of another example centrifuge separator similar to the implementation of Fig. 21 A in a vortex configuration.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE IMPLEMENTATIONS

[0068] An example adsorption device of the present technology involving an oxygen concentrator may be considered in relation to the examples of the figures. The examples of the present technology may be implemented with any of the following structures and operations.

Outer Housing

[0069] Fig. 1 depicts an implementation of an outer housing 170 of an oxygen concentrator 100. In some implementations, outer housing 170 may be comprised of a light-weight plastic. Outer housing includes compression system inlets 105, cooling system passive inlet 101 and outlet 173 at each end of outer housing 170, outlet port 174, and control panel 600. Inlet 101 and outlet 173 allow cooling air to enter the housing, flow through the housing, and exit the interior of housing 170 to aid in cooling of the oxygen concentrator 100. Compression system inlets 105 allow air to enter the compression system. Outlet port 174 is used to attach a conduit to provide oxygen enriched air produced by the oxygen concentrator 100 to a user. Schematic

[0070] Fig. 2 illustrates a schematic diagram of an oxygen concentrator 100, according to an implementation. Oxygen concentrator 100 may concentrate oxygen within an air stream to provide oxygen enriched air to a user.

[0071] Oxygen concentrator 100 may be a portable oxygen concentrator. For example, oxygen concentrator 100 may have a weight and size that allows the oxygen concentrator to be carried by hand and/or in a carrying case. In one implementation, oxygen concentrator 100 has a weight of less than about 20 pounds, less than about 15 pounds, less than about 10 pounds, or less than about 5 pounds. In an implementation, oxygen concentrator 100 has a volume of less than about 1000 cubic inches, less than about 750 cubic inches, less than about 500 cubic inches, less than about 250 cubic inches, or less than about 200 cubic inches.

[0072] Oxygen enriched air may be produced from ambient air by pressurising ambient air in canisters 302 and 304, which contain a gas separation adsorbent and are therefore referred to as sieve beds. Gas separation adsorbents useful in an oxygen concentrator are capable of separating at least nitrogen from an air stream to produce oxygen enriched air. Examples of gas separation adsorbents include molecular sieves that are capable of separating nitrogen from an air stream. Examples of adsorbents that may be used in an oxygen concentrator include, but are not limited to, zeolites (natural) or synthetic crystalline aluminosilicates that separate nitrogen from an air stream under elevated pressure. Examples of synthetic crystalline aluminosilicates that may be used include, but are not limited to: OXYSIV adsorbents available from UOP LLC, Des Plaines, IW; SYLOBEAD adsorbents available from W. R. Grace & Co, Columbia, MD; SILIPORITE adsorbents available from CECA S.A. of Paris, France; ZEOCHEM adsorbents available from Zeochem AG, Uetikon, Switzerland; and AgLiLSX adsorbent available from Air Products and Chemicals, Inc., Allentown, PA.

[0073] As shown in Fig. 2, air may enter the oxygen concentrator through air inlet 105. Air may be drawn into air inlet 105 by compression system 200. Compression system 200 may draw in air from the surroundings of the oxygen concentrator and compress the air, forcing the compressed air into one or both canisters 302 and 304. In an implementation, an inlet muffler 108 may be coupled to air inlet 105 to reduce sound produced by air being pulled into the oxygen concentrator by compression system 200. In an implementation, inlet muffler 108 may have a contaminant filter, moisture filter and/or sound reducing muffler. Thus, such the air inlet 105 may be implemented with a contaminant filter to remove contaminants from the intake air (or feed gas). In some implementations, a water adsorbent material (such as a polymer water absorbent material or a zeolite material) may be used to both adsorb water from the incoming air and to reduce the sound of the air passing into the air inlet 105. Alternatively, as discussed in more detail herein, the water may be separated with separator 1704. Such a separator may optionally be upstream or downstream of the compressor but will typically be in the path of the inlet stream of the POC that is upstream of the sieve beds. As illustrated in Fig. 2, such a component of the system is shown proximate to an outlet of the compression system 200.

[0074] Compression system 200 may include one or more compressors configured to compress air. Pressurized air, produced by compression system 200, may be forced into one or both of the canisters 302 and 304. In some implementations, the ambient air may be pressurized in the canisters to a pressure approximately in a range of 13-20 pounds per square inch gauge pressure (psig). Other pressures may also be used, depending on the type of gas separation adsorbent disposed in the canisters.

[0075] Coupled to each canister 302/304 are inlet valves 122/124 and outlet valves 132/134. As shown in Fig. 2, inlet valve 122 is coupled to canister 302 and inlet valve 124 is coupled to canister 304. Outlet valve 132 is coupled to canister 302 and outlet valve 134 is coupled to canister 304. Inlet valves 122/124 are used to control the passage of air from compression system 200 to the respective canisters. Outlet valves 132/134 are used to release gas from the respective canisters during a venting process. In some implementations, inlet valves 122/124 and outlet valves 132/134 may be silicon plunger solenoid valves. Other types of valves, however, may be used. Plunger valves offer advantages over other kinds of valves by being quiet and having low slippage.

[0076] In some implementations, a two-step valve actuation voltage may be used to control inlet valves 122/124 and outlet valves 132/134. For example, a high voltage (e.g., 24 V) may be applied to an inlet valve to open the inlet valve. The voltage may then be reduced (e.g., to 7 V) to keep the inlet valve open. Using less voltage to keep a valve open may use less power (Power = Voltage * Current). This reduction in voltage minimizes heat buildup and power consumption to extend run time from the power supply 180 (described below). When the power is cut off to the valve, it closes by spring action. In some implementations, the voltage may be applied as a function of time that is not necessarily a stepped response (e.g., a curved downward voltage between an initial 24 V and a final 7 V).

[0077] In an implementation, pressurized air is sent into one of canisters 302 or 304 while the other canister is being vented. For example, during use, inlet valve 122 is opened while inlet valve 124 is closed. Pressurized air from compression system 200 is forced into canister 302, while being inhibited from entering canister 304 by inlet valve 124. In an implementation, a controller 400 is electrically coupled to valves 122, 124, 132, and 134. Controller 400 includes one or more processors 410 operable to execute program instructions stored in memory 420. The program instructions configure the controller to perform various predefined methods that are used to operate the oxygen concentrator, such as the methods described in more detail herein. The program instructions may include program instructions for operating inlet valves 122 and 124 out of phase with each other, i.e., when one of inlet valves 122 or 124 is opened, the other valve is closed. During pressurization of canister 302, outlet valve 132 is closed and outlet valve 134 is opened. Similar to the inlet valves, outlet valves 132 and 134 are operated out of phase with each other. In some implementations, the voltages and the durations of the voltages used to open the input and output valves may be controlled by controller 400.

[0078] The controller 400 may include a transceiver 430 that may communicate with external devices to transmit data collected by the processor 410 or receive instructions from an external computing device for the processor 410.

[0079] Check valves 142 and 144 are coupled to canisters 302 and 304, respectively. Check valves 142 and 144 may be one-way valves that are passively operated by the pressure differentials that occur as the canisters are pressurized and vented, or may be active valves. Check valves 142 and 144 are coupled to the canisters to allow oxygen enriched air produced during pressurization of each canister to flow out of the canister, and to inhibit back flow of oxygen enriched air or any other gases into the canister. In this manner, check valves 142 and 144 act as one-way valves allowing oxygen enriched air to exit the respective canisters during pressurization.

[0080] The term “check valve,” as used herein, refers to a valve that allows flow of a fluid (gas or liquid) in one direction and inhibits back flow of the fluid. Examples of check valves that are suitable for use include, but are not limited to: a ball check valve; a diaphragm check valve; a butterfly check valve; a swing check valve; a duckbill valve; an umbrella valve; and a lift check valve. Under pressure, nitrogen molecules in the pressurized ambient air are adsorbed by the gas separation adsorbent in the pressurized canister. As the pressure increases, more nitrogen is adsorbed until the gas in the canister is enriched in oxygen. The nonadsorbed gas molecules (mainly oxygen) flow out of the pressurized canister when the pressure reaches a point sufficient to overcome the resistance of the check valve coupled to the canister. In one implementation, the pressure drop of the check valve in the forward direction is less than 1 psig. The break pressure in the reverse direction is greater than 100 psig. It should be understood, however, that modification of one or more components would alter the operating parameters of these valves. If the forward flow pressure is increased, there is, generally, a reduction in oxygen enriched air production. If the break pressure for reverse flow is reduced or set too low, there is, generally, a reduction in oxygen enriched air pressure.

[0081] In an exemplary implementation, canister 302 is pressurized by compressed air produced in compression system 200 and passed into canister 302. During pressurization of canister 302 inlet valve 122 is open, outlet valve 132 is closed, inlet valve 124 is closed and outlet valve 134 is open. Outlet valve 134 is opened when outlet valve 132 is closed to allow substantially simultaneous venting of canister 304 to atmosphere while canister 302 is being pressurized. Canister 302 is pressurized until the pressure in canister is sufficient to open check valve 142. Oxygen enriched air produced in canister 302 exits through check valve and, in one implementation, is collected in accumulator 106. As discussed in more detail herein, an outlet of the accumulator 106 may lead to a reservoir 1710 that is configured to apply moisture to the product gas released from the accumulator 106. As illustrated in Fig. 6, in addition to this downstream arrangement with respect to the accumulator, the reservoir 1710 may also optionally be downstream of various additional components (such as when present) of the oxygen concentrator including any one or more of supply valve 160, expansion chamber 162, flow restrictor 175, flow rate sensor 185 and/or particulate filter 187. Such an arrangement permits a storage of drier gas and can thereby reduce negative effects of the presence of moisture on such upstream system components. The reservoir 1710 may include moisture, such as moisture previously removed by the separator 1704, and the moisture may optionally be heated, such as with a heating element or coil, to warm the oxygen enriched product gas for a more comfortable user experience for a user. [0082] After some time, the gas separation adsorbent will become saturated with nitrogen and will be unable to separate significant amounts of nitrogen from incoming air. This point is usually reached after a predetermined time of oxygen enriched air production. In the implementation described above, when the gas separation adsorbent in canister 302 reaches this saturation point, the inflow of compressed air is stopped and canister 302 is vented to remove nitrogen. During venting, inlet valve 122 is closed, and outlet valve 132 is opened. While canister 302 is being vented, canister 304 is pressurized to produce oxygen enriched air in the same manner described above. Pressurization of canister 304 is achieved by closing outlet valve 134 and opening inlet valve 124. The oxygen enriched air exits canister 304 through check valve 144.

[0083] During venting of canister 302, outlet valve 132 is opened allowing pressurized gas (mainly nitrogen) to exit the canister to atmosphere through concentrator outlet 130. In an implementation, the vented gases may be directed through muffler 133 to reduce the noise produced by releasing the pressurized gas from the canister. As gas is released from canister 302, the pressure in the canister 302 drops, allowing the nitrogen to become desorbed from the gas separation adsorbent. The released nitrogen exits the canister through outlet 130, resetting the canister to a state that allows renewed separation of nitrogen from an air stream. Muffler 133 may include open cell foam (or another material) to muffle the sound of the gas leaving the oxygen concentrator. In some implementations, the combined muffling components/techniques for the input of air and the output of oxygen enriched air may provide for oxygen concentrator operation at a sound level below 50 decibels.

[0084] During venting of the canisters, it is advantageous that at least a majority of the nitrogen is removed. In an implementation, at least about 50%, at least about 60%, at least about 70%, at least about 80%, at least about 90%, at least about 95%, at least about 98%, or substantially all of the nitrogen in a canister is removed before the canister is re-used to separate nitrogen from air. In some implementations, a canister may be further purged of nitrogen using an oxygen enriched air stream that is introduced into the canister from the other canister. [0085] In an exemplary implementation, a portion of the oxygen enriched air may be transferred from canister 302 to canister 304 when canister 304 is being vented of nitrogen. Transfer of oxygen enriched air from canister 302 to 304 during venting of canister 304, helps to further purge nitrogen (and other gases) from the canister. In an implementation, oxygen enriched air may travel through flow restrictors 151, 153, and 155 between the two canisters. Flow restrictor 151 may be a trickle flow restrictor. Flow restrictor 151, for example, may be a 0.009D flow restrictor (e.g., the flow restrictor has a radius 0.009” which is less than the diameter of the tube it is inside). Flow restrictors 153 and 155 may be 0.013D flow restrictors. Other flow restrictor types and sizes are also contemplated and may be used depending on the specific configuration and tubing used to couple the canisters. In some implementations, the flow restrictors may be press fit flow restrictors that restrict air flow by introducing a narrower diameter in their respective tube. In some implementations, the press fit flow restrictors may be made of sapphire, metal or plastic (other materials are also contemplated).

[0086] Flow of oxygen enriched air between the canisters is also controlled by use of valve 152 and valve 154. Valves 152 and 154 may be opened for a short duration during the venting process (and may be closed otherwise) to prevent excessive oxygen loss out of the purging canister. Other durations are also contemplated. In an exemplary implementation, canister 302 is being vented and it is desirable to purge canister 302 by passing a portion of the oxygen enriched air being produced in canister 304 into canister 302. A portion of oxygen enriched air, upon pressurization of canister 304, will pass through flow restrictor 151 into canister 302 during venting of canister 302. Additional oxygen enriched air is passed into canister 302, from canister 304, through valve 154 and flow restrictor 155. Valve 152 may remain closed during the transfer process, or may be opened if additional oxygen enriched air is needed. The selection of appropriate flow restrictors 151 and 155, coupled with controlled opening of valve 154 allows a controlled amount of oxygen enriched air to be sent from canister 304 to canister 302. In an implementation, the controlled amount of oxygen enriched air is an amount sufficient to purge canister 302 and minimize the loss of oxygen enriched air through venting valve 132 of canister 302. While this implementation describes venting of canister 302, it should be understood that the same process can be used to vent canister 304 using flow restrictor 151, valve 152 and flow restrictor 153.

[0087] The pair of equalization/vent valves 152/154 work with flow restrictors 153 and 155 to optimize the gas flow balance between the two canisters. This may allow for better flow control for venting one of the canisters with oxygen enriched air from the other of the canisters. It may also provide better flow direction between the two canisters. It has been found that, while flow valves 152/154 may be operated as bi-directional valves, the flow rate through such valves varies depending on the direction of fluid flowing through the valve. For example, oxygen enriched air flowing from canister 304 toward canister 302 has a flow rate faster through valve 152 than the flow rate of oxygen enriched air flowing from canister 302 toward canister 304 through valve 152. If a single valve was to be used, eventually either too much or too little oxygen enriched air would be sent between the canisters and the canisters would, over time, begin to produce different amounts of oxygen enriched air. Use of opposing valves and flow restrictors on parallel air pathways may equalize the flow pattern of the oxygen enriched air between the two canisters. Equalising the flow may allow for a steady amount of oxygen enriched air to be available to the user over multiple cycles and also may allow a predictable volume of oxygen enriched air to purge the other of the canisters. In some implementations, the air pathway may not have restrictors but may instead have a valve with a built-in resistance or the air pathway itself may have a narrow radius to provide resistance. [0088] At times, oxygen concentrator may be shut down for a period of time. When an oxygen concentrator is shut down, the temperature inside the canisters may drop as a result of the loss of adiabatic heat from the compression system. As the temperature drops, the volume occupied by the gases inside the canisters will drop. Cooling of the canisters may lead to a negative pressure in the canisters. Valves (e.g., valves 122, 124, 132, and 134) leading to and from the canisters are dynamically sealed rather than hermetically sealed. Thus, outside air may enter the canisters after shutdown to accommodate the pressure differential. When outside air enters the canisters, moisture from the outside air may be adsorbed by the gas separation adsorbent. Adsorption of water inside the canisters may lead to gradual degradation of the gas separation adsorbents, steadily reducing ability of the gas separation adsorbents to produce oxygen enriched air.

[0089] In an implementation, outside air may be inhibited from entering canisters after the oxygen concentrator is shut down by pressurising both canisters prior to shutdown. By storing the canisters under a positive pressure, the valves may be forced into a hermetically closed position by the internal pressure of the air in the canisters. In an implementation, the pressure in the canisters, at shutdown, should be at least greater than ambient pressure. As used herein the term “ambient pressure” refers to the pressure of the surroundings in which the oxygen concentrator is located (e.g. the pressure inside a room, outside, in a plane, etc.). In an implementation, the pressure in the canisters, at shutdown, is at least greater than standard atmospheric pressure (i.e., greater than 760 mmHg (Torr), 1 atm, 101,325 Pa). In an implementation, the pressure in the canisters, at shutdown, is at least about 1.1 times greater than ambient pressure; is at least about 1.5 times greater than ambient pressure; or is at least about 2 times greater than ambient pressure.

[0090] In an implementation, pressurization of the canisters may be achieved by directing pressurized air into each canister from the compression system and closing all valves to trap the pressurized air in the canisters. In an exemplary implementation, when a shutdown sequence is initiated, inlet valves 122 and 124 are opened and outlet valves 132 and 134 are closed. Because inlet valves 122 and 124 are joined together by a common conduit, both canisters 302 and 304 may become pressurized as air and / or oxygen enriched air from one canister may be transferred to the other canister. This situation may occur when the pathway between the compression system and the two inlet valves allows such transfer. Because the oxygen concentrator operates in an alternating pressurize/venting mode, at least one of the canisters should be in a pressurized state at any given time. In an alternate implementation, the pressure may be increased in each canister by operation of compression system 200. When inlet valves 122 and 124 are opened, pressure between canisters 302 and 304 will equalize, however, the equalized pressure in either canister may not be sufficient to inhibit air from entering the canisters during shutdown. In order to ensure that air is inhibited from entering the canisters, compression system 200 may be operated for a time sufficient to increase the pressure inside both canisters to a level at least greater than ambient pressure. Regardless of the method of pressurization of the canisters, once the canisters are pressurized, inlet valves 122 and 124 are closed, trapping the pressurized air inside the canisters, which inhibits air from entering the canisters during the shutdown period.

[0091] Referring to Fig. 3, an implementation of an oxygen concentrator 100 is depicted. Oxygen concentrator 100 includes a compression system 200, a canister system 300, and a power supply 180 disposed within an outer housing 170. Inlets 101 are located in outer housing 170 to allow air from the environment to enter oxygen concentrator 100. Inlets 101 may allow air to flow into the compartment to assist with cooling of the components in the compartment. Power supply 180 provides a source of power for the oxygen concentrator 100. Compression system 200 draws air in through the inlet 105 and muffler 108. Muffler 108 may reduce noise of air being drawn in by the compression system and also may include a desiccant material to remove water from the incoming air. Oxygen concentrator 100 may further include fan 172 used to vent air and other gases from the oxygen concentrator via outlet 173.

Compression System

[0092] In some implementations, compression system 200 includes one or more compressors. In another implementation, compression system 200 includes a single compressor, coupled to all of the canisters of canister system 300. Turning to Figs. 4 and 5, a compression system 200 is depicted that includes compressor 210 and motor 220. Motor 220 is coupled to compressor 210 and provides an operating force to the compressor to operate the compression mechanism. For example, motor 220 may be a motor providing a rotating component that causes cyclical motion of a component of the compressor that compresses air. When compressor 210 is a piston type compressor, motor 220 provides an operating force which causes the piston of compressor 210 to be reciprocated. Reciprocation of the piston causes compressed air to be produced by compressor 210. The pressure of the compressed air is, in part, estimated by the speed at which the compressor is operated (e.g., how fast the piston is reciprocated). Motor 220, therefore, may be a variable speed motor that is operable at various speeds to dynamically control the pressure of air produced by compressor 210.

[0093] In one implementation, compressor 210 includes a single head wobble type compressor having a piston. Other types of compressors may be used such as diaphragm compressors and other types of piston compressors. Motor 220 may be a DC or AC motor and provides the operating power to the compressing component of compressor 210. Motor 220, in an implementation, may be a brushless DC motor. Motor 220 may be a variable speed motor configured to operate the compressing component of compressor 210 at variable speeds. Motor 220 may be coupled to controller 400, as depicted in Fig. 2, which sends operating signals to the motor to control the operation of the motor. For example, controller 400 may send signals to motor 220 to: turn the motor on, turn the motor off, and set the operating speed of the motor. Thus, as illustrated in Fig. 2, the compression system 200 may include a speed sensor 201. The speed sensor may be a motor speed transducer used to determine a rotational velocity of the motor 220 and/or other reciprocating operation of the compression system 200. For example, a motor speed signal from the motor speed transducer may be provided to the controller 400. The speed sensor or motor speed transducer may, for example, be a Hall effect sensor. The controller 400 may operate the compression system 200 via the motor 220 based on the speed signal and/or any other sensor signal of the oxygen concentrator, such as a pressure sensor (e.g., accumulator pressure sensor 107). Thus, as illustrated in Fig. 2, the controller 400 receives sensor signals, such as a speed signal from the speed sensor 201 and accumulator pressure signal from the accumulator pressure sensor 107. With such signal(s), the controller may implement one or more control loops (e.g., feedback control) for operation of the compression system based on sensor signals such as accumulator pressure and/or motor speed as described in more detail herein.

[0094] Compression system 200 inherently creates substantial heat. Heat is caused by the consumption of power by motor 220 and the conversion of power into mechanical motion. Compressor 210 generates heat due to the increased resistance to movement of the compressor components by the air being compressed. Heat is also inherently generated due to adiabatic compression of the air by compressor 210. Thus, the continual pressurization of air produces heat in the enclosure. Additionally, power supply 180 may produce heat as power is supplied to compression system 200. Furthermore, users of the oxygen concentrator may operate the device in unconditioned environments (e.g., outdoors) at potentially higher ambient temperatures than indoors, thus the incoming air will already be in a heated state.

[0095] Heat produced inside oxygen concentrator 100 can be problematic. Lithium ion batteries are generally employed as power supplies for oxygen concentrators due to their long life and light weight. Lithium ion battery packs, however, are dangerous at elevated temperatures and safety controls are employed in oxygen concentrator 100 to shut down the system if dangerously high power supply temperatures are detected. Additionally, as the internal temperature of oxygen concentrator 100 increases, the amount of oxygen generated by the concentrator may decrease. This is due, in part, to the decreasing amount of oxygen in a given volume of air at higher temperatures. If the amount of produced oxygen drops below a predetermined amount, the oxygen concentrator 100 may automatically shut down.

[0096] Because of the compact nature of oxygen concentrators, dissipation of heat can be difficult. Solutions typically involve the use of one or more fans to create a flow of cooling air through the enclosure. Such solutions, however, require additional power from the power supply 180 and thus shorten the portable usage time of the oxygen concentrator. In an implementation, a passive cooling system may be used that takes advantage of the mechanical power produced by motor 220. Referring to Figs. 4 and 5, compression system 200 includes motor 220 having an external rotating armature 230. Specifically, armature 230 of motor 220 (e.g. a DC motor) is wrapped around the stationary field that is driving the armature. Since motor 220 is a large contributor of heat to the overall system it is helpful to transfer heat off the motor and sweep it out of the enclosure. With the external high speed rotation, the relative velocity of the major component of the motor and the air in which it exists is very high. The surface area of the armature is larger if externally mounted than if it is internally mounted. Since the rate of heat exchange is proportional to the surface area and the square of the velocity, using a larger surface area armature mounted externally increases the ability of heat to be dissipated from motor 220. The gain in cooling efficiency by mounting the armature externally, allows the elimination of one or more cooling fans, thus reducing the weight and power consumption while maintaining the interior of the oxygen concentrator within the appropriate temperature range. Additionally, the rotation of the externally mounted armature creates movement of air proximate to the motor to create additional cooling.

[0097] Moreover, an external rotating armature may help the efficiency of the motor, allowing less heat to be generated. A motor having an external armature operates similar to the way a flywheel works in an internal combustion engine. When the motor is driving the compressor, the resistance to rotation is low at low pressures. When the pressure of the compressed air is higher, the resistance to rotation of the motor is higher. As a result, the motor does not maintain consistent ideal rotational stability, but instead surges and slows down depending on the pressure demands of the compressor. This tendency of the motor to surge and then slow down is inefficient and therefore generates heat. Use of an external armature adds greater angular momentum to the motor which helps to compensate for the variable resistance experienced by the motor. Since the motor does not have to work as hard, the heat produced by the motor may be reduced.

[0098] In an implementation, cooling efficiency may be further increased by coupling an air transfer device 240 to external rotating armature 230. In an implementation, air transfer device 240 is coupled to the external armature 230 such that rotation of the external armature 230 causes the air transfer device 240 to create an air flow that passes over at least a portion of the motor. In an implementation, the air transfer device 240 includes one or more fan blades coupled to the external armature 230. In an implementation, a plurality of fan blades may be arranged in an annular ring such that the air transfer device 240 acts as an impeller that is rotated by movement of the external rotating armature 230. As depicted in Figs. 4 and 5, air transfer device 240 may be mounted to an outer surface of the external armature 230, in alignment with the motor 220. The mounting of the air transfer device 240 to the armature 230 allows air flow to be directed toward the main portion of the external rotating armature 230, providing a cooling effect during use. In an implementation, the air transfer device 240 directs air flow such that a majority of the external rotating armature 230 is in the air flow path. [0099] Further, referring to Figs. 4 and 5, air pressurized by compressor 210 exits compressor 210 at compressor outlet 212. A compressor outlet conduit 250 is coupled to compressor outlet 212 to transfer the compressed air to canister system 300. As noted previously, compression of air causes an increase in the temperature of the air. This increase in temperature can be detrimental to the efficiency of the oxygen concentrator. In order to reduce the temperature of the pressurized air, compressor outlet conduit 250 is placed in the air flow path produced by air transfer device 240. At least a portion of compressor outlet conduit 250 may be positioned proximate to motor 220. Thus, air flow, created by air transfer device 240, may contact both motor 220 and compressor outlet conduit 250. In one implementation, a majority of compressor outlet conduit 250 is positioned proximate to motor 220. In an implementation, the compressor outlet conduit 250 is coiled around motor 220, as depicted in Fig. 5.

[00100] In an implementation, the compressor outlet conduit 250 is composed of a heat exchange metal. Heat exchange metals include, but are not limited to, aluminum, carbon steel, stainless steel, titanium, copper, copper- nickel alloys or other alloys formed from combinations of these metals. Thus, compressor outlet conduit 250 can act as a heat exchanger to remove heat that is inherently caused by compression of the air. By removing heat from the compressed air, the number of molecules in a given volume at a given pressure is increased. As a result, the amount of oxygen enriched air that can be generated by each canister during each pressure swing cycle may be increased.

[00101] The heat dissipation mechanisms described herein are either passive or make use of elements required for the oxygen concentrator 100. Thus, for example, dissipation of heat may be increased without using systems that require additional power. By not requiring additional power, the run-time of the battery packs may be increased and the size and weight of the oxygen concentrator may be minimized. Likewise, use of an additional box fan or cooling unit may be eliminated. Eliminating such additional features reduces the weight and power consumption of the oxygen concentrator.

[00102] As discussed above, adiabatic compression of air causes the air temperature to increase. During venting of a canister in canister system 300, the pressure of the gas being released from the canisters decreases. The adiabatic decompression of the gas in the canister causes the temperature of the gas to drop as it is vented. In an implementation, the cooled vented gases 327 from canister system 300 are directed toward power supply 180 and toward compression system 200. In an implementation, base 315 of canister system 300 receives the vented gases from the canisters. The vented gases 327 are directed through base 315 toward outlet 325 of the base 315 and toward power supply 180. The vented gases, as noted, are cooled due to decompression of the gases and therefore passively provide cooling to the power supply. When the compression system 200 is operated, the air transfer device 240 will gather the cooled vented gases and direct the gases toward the motor 220 of compression system 200. Fan 172 may also assist in directing the vented gas across compression system 200 and out of the housing 170. In this manner, additional cooling may be obtained without requiring any further power requirements from the battery.

Canister System

[00103] Oxygen concentrator 100 may include at least two canisters, each canister including a gas separation adsorbent. Examples may be considered in relation to the version shown in Figs. 9-13, which show a canister assembly that is generally integrated into a housing of a POC and typically requires a service technician and tools to install and remove. An alternative version is shown in Figs. 15 as a removable canister assembly that may be easily inserted and removed from the POC as illustrated in Figs. 16A-16C.

[00104] The canisters of oxygen concentrator 100 may be disposed in or formed from a molded housing. In an implementation, canister system 300 includes two housing components 310 and 510, as depicted in Fig. 9. In various implementations, the housing components 310 and 510 of the oxygen concentrator 100 may form a two-part molded plastic frame that defines two canisters 302 and 304 and accumulator 106. The housing components 310 and 510 may be formed separately and then coupled together. In some implementations, housing components 310 and 510 may be injection molded or compression molded. Housing components 310 and 510 may be made from a thermoplastic polymer such as polycarbonate, methylene carbide, polystyrene, acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), polypropylene, polyethylene, or polyvinyl chloride. In another implementation, housing components 310 and 510 may be made of a thermoset plastic or metal (such as stainless steel or a lightweight aluminum alloy). Lightweight materials may be used to reduce the weight of the oxygen concentrator 100. In some implementations, the two housings 310 and 510 may be fastened together using screws or bolts. Alternatively, housing components 310 and 510 may be solvent welded together. Installation of the canister assembly 300 of Fig. 9 into or out of the housing of POC shown in Fig. 1 generally requires removal of the outer housing 170 of the POC 100 and the use of tools, such that its replacement is typically performed by technician.

[00105] As shown in Figs. 9-13, valve seats 322, 324, 332, and 334 and air pathways of conduit 330 and 346 may be integrated into the housing component 310 to reduce the number of sealed connections needed throughout the air flow of the oxygen concentrator 100.

[00106] Air pathways/tubing between different sections in housing components 310 and 510 may take the form of molded conduits. Conduits in the form of molded channels for air pathways may occupy multiple planes in housing components 310 and 510. For example, the molded air conduits may be formed at different depths and at different x,y,z positions in housing components 310 and 510. In some implementations, a majority or substantially all of the conduits may be integrated into the housing components 310 and 510 to reduce potential leak points.

[00107] In some implementations, prior to coupling housing components 310 and 510 together, O-rings may be placed between various points of housing components 310 and 510 to ensure that the housing components are properly sealed. In some implementations, components may be integrated and/or coupled separately to housing components 310 and 510. For example, tubing, flow restrictors (e.g., press fit flow restrictors), oxygen sensors, gas separation adsorbents, check valves, plugs, processors, power supplies, etc. may be coupled to housing components 310 and 510 before and/or after the housing components are coupled together.

[0100] In some implementations, apertures 337 leading to the exterior of housing components 310 and 510 may be used to insert devices such as flow restrictors. Apertures may also be used for increased moldability. One or more of the apertures may be plugged after molding (e.g., with a plastic plug). In some implementations, flow restrictors may be inserted into passages prior to inserting plugs to seal the passages. Press fit flow restrictors may have diameters that may allow a friction fit between the press fit flow restrictors and their respective apertures. In some implementations, an adhesive may be added to the exterior of the press fit flow restrictors to hold the press fit flow restrictors in place once inserted. In some implementations, the plugs may have a friction fit with their respective tubes (or may have an adhesive applied to their outer surface). The press fit flow restrictors and/or other components may be inserted and pressed into their respective apertures using a narrow tip tool or rod (e.g., with a diameter less than the diameter of the respective aperture). In some implementations, the press fit flow restrictors may be inserted into their respective tubes until they abut a feature in the tube to halt their insertion. For example, the feature may include a reduction in radius. Other features are also contemplated (e.g., a bump in the side of the tubing, threads, etc.). In some implementations, press fit flow restrictors may be molded into the housing components (e.g., as narrow tube segments).

[0101] In some implementations, spring baffle 139 may be placed into respective canister receiving portions of housing components 310 and 510 with the spring side of the baffle 139 facing the exit of the canister. Spring baffle 139 may apply force to gas separation adsorbent in the canister while also assisting in preventing gas separation adsorbent from entering the exit apertures. Use of a spring baffle 139 may keep the gas separation adsorbent compact while also allowing for expansion (e.g., thermal expansion). Keeping the gas separation adsorbent compact may prevent the gas separation adsorbent from breaking during movement of the oxygen concentrator 100.

[0102] In some implementations, filter 129 may be placed into respective canister receiving portions of housing components 310 and 510 facing the inlet of the respective canisters. The filter 129 removes particles from the feed gas stream entering the canisters.

[0103] In some implementations, pressurized air from the compression system 200 may enter air inlet 306. Air inlet 306 is coupled to inlet conduit 330. Air enters housing component 310 through inlet 306 and travels through conduit 330, and then to valve seats 322 and 324. Fig. 10 and Fig. 11 depict an end view of housing 310. Fig. 10 depicts an end view of housing 310 prior to fitting valves to housing 310. Fig. 11 depicts an end view of housing 310 with the valves fitted to the housing 310. Valve seats 322 and 324 are configured to receive inlet valves 122 and 124 respectively. Inlet valve 122 is coupled to canister 302 and inlet valve 124 is coupled to canister 304. Housing 310 also includes valve seats 332 and 334 configured to receive outlet valves 132 and 134 respectively. Outlet valve 132 is coupled to canister 302 and outlet valve 134 is coupled to canister 304. Inlet valves 122/124 are used to control the passage of air from conduit 330 to the respective canisters.

[0104] In an implementation, pressurized air is sent into one of canisters 302 or 304 while the other canister is being vented. For example, during use, inlet valve 122 is opened while inlet valve 124 is closed. Pressurized air from compression system 200 is forced into canister 302, while being inhibited from entering canister 304 by inlet valve 124. During pressurization of canister 302, outlet valve 132 is closed and outlet valve 134 is opened. Similar to the inlet valves, outlet valves 132 and 134 are operated out of phase with each other. Valve seat 322 includes an opening 323 that passes through housing 310 into canister 302. Similarly valve seat 324 includes an opening 375 that passes through housing 310 into canister 302. Air from conduit 330 passes through openings 323 or 375 if the respective valves 322 and 324 are open, and enters a canister.

[0105] Check valves 142 and 144 (See Fig. 9) are coupled to canisters 302 and 304, respectively. Check valves 142 and 144 are one way valves that may be passively operated by the pressure differentials that occur as the canisters are pressurized and vented. Oxygen enriched air produced in canisters 302 and 304 passes from the canisters into openings 542 and 544 of housing component 510. A passage (not shown) links openings 542 and 544 to conduits 342 and 344, respectively. Oxygen enriched air produced in canister 302 passes from the canister though opening 542 and into conduit 342 when the pressure in the canister is sufficient to open check valve 142. When check valve 142 is open, oxygen enriched air flows through conduit 342 toward the end of housing 310. Similarly, oxygen enriched air produced in canister 304 passes from the canister through opening 544 and into conduit 344 when the pressure in the canister is sufficient to open check valve 144. When check valve 144 is open, oxygen enriched air flows through conduit 344 toward the end of housing 310.

[0106] Oxygen enriched air from either canister travels through conduit 342 or 344 and enters conduit 346 formed in housing 310. Conduit 346 includes openings that couple the conduit to conduit 342, conduit 344 and accumulator 106. Thus, oxygen enriched air, produced in canister 302 or 304, travels to conduit 346 and passes into accumulator 106. As illustrated in Fig. 2, gas pressure within the accumulator 106 may be measured by a sensor, such as with an accumulator pressure sensor 107. (See also Fig. 6.) Thus, the accumulator pressure sensor provides a signal representing the pressure of the accumulated oxygen enriched air. An example of a suitable pressure transducer is a sensor from the HONEYWELL ASDX series. An alternative suitable pressure transducer is a sensor from the NPA Series from GENERAL ELECTRIC. In some implementations, the pressure sensor may alternatively measure pressure of the gas outside of the accumulator 106, such as in an output path between the accumulator 106 and a valve (e.g., supply valve 160) that gates the release of the oxygen enriched air for delivery to a user in a bolus.

[0107] After some time, the gas separation adsorbent will become saturated with nitrogen and will be unable to separate significant amounts of nitrogen from incoming air. When the gas separation adsorbent in a canister reaches this saturation point, the inflow of compressed air is stopped and the canister is vented to remove nitrogen. Canister 302 is vented by closing inlet valve 122 and opening outlet valve 132. Outlet valve 132 releases the vented gas from canister 302 into the volume defined by the end of housing 310. Foam material may cover the end of housing 310 to reduce the sound made by release of gases from the canisters. Similarly, canister 304 is vented by closing inlet valve 124 and opening outlet valve 134. Outlet valve 134 releases the vented gas from canister 304 into the volume defined by the end of housing 310.

[0108] While canister 302 is being vented, canister 304 is pressurized to produce oxygen enriched air in the same manner described above. Pressurization of canister 304 is achieved by closing outlet valve 134 and opening inlet valve 124. The oxygen enriched air exits canister 304 through check valve 144.

[0109] In an exemplary implementation, a portion of the oxygen enriched air may be transferred from canister 302 to canister 304 when canister 304 is being vented of nitrogen. Transfer of oxygen enriched air from canister 302 to canister 304, during venting of canister 304, helps to further purge nitrogen (and other gases) from the canister. Flow of oxygen enriched air between the canisters is controlled using flow restrictors and valves, as depicted in Fig. 2. Three conduits are formed in housing component 510 for use in transferring oxygen enriched air between canisters. As shown in Fig. 12, conduit 530 couples canister 302 to canister 304. Flow restrictor 151 (not shown) is disposed in conduit 530, between canister 302 and canister 304 to restrict flow of oxygen enriched air during use. Conduit 532 also couples canister 302 to 304. Conduit 532 is coupled to valve seat 552 which receives valve 152, as shown in Fig. 13. Flow restrictor 153 (not shown) is disposed in conduit 532, between canister 302 and 304. Conduit 534 also couples canister 302 to 304. Conduit 534 is coupled to valve seat 554 which receives valve 154, as shown in Fig. 13. Flow restrictor 155 (not shown) is disposed in conduit 534, between canister 302 and 304. The pair of equalization/vent valves 152/154 work with flow restrictors 153 and 155 to optimize the air flow balance between the two canisters.

[0110] Oxygen enriched air in accumulator 106 passes through supply valve 160 into expansion chamber 162 which is formed in housing component 510. An opening (not shown) in housing component 510 couples accumulator 106 to supply valve 160. In an implementation, expansion chamber 162 may include one or more devices configured to estimate an oxygen concentration of gas passing through the chamber.

Removable Canister Assembly (Figs. 15-16)

[0111] In some implementations, to facilitate removability by its user, the canisters of oxygen concentrator 100 may be formed as shown in Figs. 15. Such canisters are similar in relation to the pressurization and depressurization operations to the canisters described in relation to Figs. 9-13 but are otherwise structured to facilitate easy replacement and removal from the POC. As illustrated in the example of Fig. 15, canister assembly 700 includes canisters 702 and 704. Each canister provides a separately pressurizable container for a sieve bed comparable to the sieve bed previously described.

[0112] The canister assembly 700 may have a container portion 1504, which may define one or more container volumes for the sieve bed(s). The canister assembly 700 may also include one or more cap portions 1508. The container portion 1504 may include one or more mounting flanges 1510 for mounting or joining the cap portion(s) 1508 onto the container portion(s) 1504 to form each or both canisters of the canister assembly 700. Thus, the cap portion 1508 may similarly include a flange portion 1511 corresponding with the flanges 1510 such that they may optionally be joined by various joining means (e.g., welding or fasteners such as screws, bolts or rivets).

[0113] Each canister 702, 704 includes an inlet (or air inlet) and an outlet (or air outlet).

For example, as shown in the example of Fig. 15, a first canister (canister 702) includes an inlet 706 and an outlet 710 that provide gas access to the sieve bed of the first canister. A second canister (canister 704) includes an inlet 708 and an outlet 712 that provide gas access to the sieve bed of the second canister. As illustrated, any or all of the inlets and/or outlets may be formed as projections or nipples for respective insertion within a coupler or port/orifice of a sieve bed compartment of the POC when inserted into the POC outer housing for use. Such inlets and outlets may have a channel (e.g., cylindrical) within each so that each serves as a path for the gas transfer involved in pressure swing and/or vacuum swing operations of the respective sieve bed of the canister. Each inlet may have an inlet seal respectively, such as a flexible rubber O-ring to create a sealed connection with the oxygen concentrator 100 for pressurized operations. The outlets 710, 712 may similarly include outlet seals.

[0114] While the terms “inlet” and “outlet” are generally used herein to assist with an explanation of features of the canister, such terms are not intended to require only a single direction of gas transfer since it will be recognized that the PSA or VS A process can involve ingress and egress of gas at a common end of the canister depending on the cycle of the process. However, in the example of Fig. 15, the POC may be configured so that the outlets are associated with an output of a product gas (e.g., oxygen enriched air) whereas the inlets may be associated with an introduction of ambient gas (e.g., air) to the sieve bed for the adsorption process. Nevertheless, it will be understood that such functions of these inlets and outlets may be reversed depending on the implementation of the controlled flow path of the POC (i.e., operation of its valves and manifolds) in which the canister assembly 700 is inserted.

[0115] As previously mentioned, the removable canister assembly 700 may be easily inserted and removed from the POC. This is illustrated by Fig. 16A, which shows canister assembly 700 installed into a compartment 1602 (see Fig. 16B) of oxygen concentrator 100, within the outer housing 170. The compartment 1602 is adapted to contain the canister assembly 700. As shown in the cutout view of Fig. 16B, compartment 1602 may be accessed by removing a portion of the outer housing 170, such as a lid (or canister cover or canister panel), for removing and/or inserting of the canister assembly 700 via a portal 1604, such as at a side, of the outer housing 170 of the oxygen concentrator 100. Such a lid 1666 is shown in Fig. 16C. Thus, insertion or removal of the canister assembly 700 may be achieved without disassembling or removing the entire outer housing 170 but may be achieved by removing the lid (shown in Fig. 16C) of the outer housing 170. As illustrated in Fig. 16A and 16B, such insertion of the canister assembly 700 may involve engaging the ports of the inlets and/or outlets of the canister assembly 700 with a coupling of one or more manifolds adjacent to the compartment 1602 and within the outer housing 170 of the oxygen concentrator 100. Each outlet of the canister assembly 700 may have a nipple for joining to a coupling of a manifold. For example, as illustrated in Fig. 16B, the outlets of the canister assembly 700 may be coupled to manifold 1606 (e.g., an outlet manifold) at the couplings 1608-1, 1608-2 (e.g., outlet couplings) of the manifold 1606, which may permit pneumatic sealing of the outlets of the canister assembly 700. Such couplings (e.g., outlet couplings 1608-1, 1608-2) may have a pneumatically sealable structure to complement a reciprocal structure (or complementary structure) of the outlet of the canister assembly 700. For example, such couplings (e.g., outlet couplings 1608-1, 1608-2) may be configured as orifices to receive nipples of the outlets of the canister assembly 700 within channels of the orifices. The manifold 1606 may be generally affixed within the oxygen concentrator 100 as a stationary component. The manifold 1606 may also include one or more valves, such as any of valves (or control valves) 152, 154 when the manifold 1606 is an outlet manifold, or valves 122, 132, 124, 134 if the manifold 1606 is an inlet manifold.

[0116] Similarly, as illustrated in Figs. 16A and 16B, the inlets of the canister assembly 700 may be coupled to manifold 804 (e.g., an inlet manifold) with additional couplings 1609-1, 1609-2 (e.g., inlet couplings) (see Fig. 16B), which may permit pneumatic sealing of the inlets of the canister assembly 700. Such couplings (e.g., couplings 1609-1, 1609-2) may have a suitable pneumatically sealable structure to complement a reciprocal structure (or complementary structure) of the inlet of the canister assembly 700. The manifold 804 may be generally affixed within the oxygen concentrator 100 as a traversing or moveable component as discussed in more detail herein.

[0117] The oxygen concentrator 100 of the example of Figs. 16A, 16B, and 16C is similar to those described above. As illustrated in Fig. 16A, the oxygen concentrator may have a battery compartment 1665 within the outer housing, separate from, and beneath the removable canister assembly 700. An optional battery compartment lid 1667 may be removable for accessing the battery. The outer housing may have a button 1669 to indicate to a user that the adjacent conduit is for attachment to an airway delivery device, e.g. a cannula for receiving enriched air. The outer housing may also include a first and second sets of cooling system outlets 1671-1 and 1671-2. The outer housing may also include a charging port 1673 for supplying power to the oxygen concentrator for operations and/or for charging the battery. The outer housing may also have a removable panel 1675, such as with vent apertures. The removable panel 1675 may serve as an air filter and a single opening for feed gas to go in and move to the compressor inlet. The outer housing may have a set of cooling system inlets 1677. [0118] Moreover, as shown in Figs. 16A and 16B, the oxygen concentrator may also include a securing mechanism 800 that may permit removably engaging of the manifold 804 with the air inlets 706 and 708. The securing mechanism 800 may also secure canister assembly 700 within oxygen concentrator 100. Advantageously, the canister assembly 700 may be secured in position during operation of the oxygen concentrator 100, such as at a relatively high pressure. The securing mechanism 800 is configured such that it is movable between a closed position and an open position. Thus, operation of the securing mechanism 800 may be utilized to achieve securement of the canister assembly 700 as well as pneumatic sealing with the canister assembly 700, such as when in operation. Securing mechanism 800 may be manipulated by a user for easy removal and insertion of the canister assembly 700.

Outlet System

[0119] An outlet system, coupled to one or more of the canisters, includes one or more conduits for providing oxygen enriched air to a user. In an implementation, oxygen enriched air produced in either of canisters 302 and 304 is collected in accumulator 106 through check valves 142 and 144, respectively, as depicted schematically in Fig. 6. The oxygen enriched air leaving the canisters may be collected in the accumulator 106 prior to being provided to a user. In some implementations, a tube may be coupled to the accumulator 106 to provide the oxygen enriched air to the user. Oxygen enriched air may be provided to the user through an airway delivery device that transfers the oxygen enriched air to the user’s mouth and/or nose. In an implementation, an outlet may include a tube that directs the oxygen toward a user’s nose and/or mouth that may not be directly coupled to the user’s nose.

[0120] Turning to Fig. 6, a schematic diagram of an implementation of an outlet system for an oxygen concentrator is shown. A supply valve 160 may be coupled to an outlet tube to control the release of the oxygen enriched air from accumulator 106 to the user. In an implementation, supply valve 160 is an electromagnetic ally actuated plunger valve. Supply valve 160 is actuated by controller 400 to control the delivery of oxygen enriched air to a user. Actuation of supply valve 160 is not timed or synchronized to the pressure swing adsorption process. Instead, actuation is synchronized to the user’s breathing as described below. In some implementations, supply valve 160 may have continuously-valued actuation to establish a clinically effective amplitude profile for providing oxygen enriched air.

[0121] Oxygen enriched air in accumulator 106 passes through supply valve 160 into expansion chamber 162 as depicted in Fig. 6. In an implementation, expansion chamber 162 may include one or more devices configured to estimate an oxygen concentration of gas passing through the expansion chamber 162. Oxygen enriched air in expansion chamber 162 builds briefly, through release of gas from accumulator 106 by supply valve 160, and then is bled through a small orifice flow restrictor 175 to a flow rate sensor 185 and then to particulate filter 187. Flow restrictor 175 may be a 0.025 D flow restrictor. Other flow restrictor types and sizes may be used. In some implementations, the diameter of the air pathway in the housing may be restricted to create restricted gas flow. Optional flow rate sensor 185 may be any sensor configured to generate a signal representing the rate of gas flowing through the conduit. Optional particulate filter 187 may be used to filter bacteria, dust, granule particles, etc., prior to delivery of the oxygen enriched air to the user. The oxygen enriched air passes through filter 187 (when present) and through the reservoir 1710 (when present) to connector 190 which sends the oxygen enriched air to the user via delivery conduit 192 and to pressure sensor 194.

[0122] The fluid dynamics of the outlet pathway, coupled with the programmed actuations of supply valve 160, may result in a bolus of oxygen being provided at the correct time and with an amplitude profile that assures rapid delivery into the user’s lungs without excessive waste.

[0123] Expansion chamber 162 may include one or more oxygen sensors adapted to determine an oxygen concentration of gas passing through the chamber. In an implementation, the oxygen concentration of gas passing through expansion chamber 162 is estimated using an oxygen sensor 165. An oxygen sensor is a device configured to measure oxygen concentration in a gas. Examples of oxygen sensors include, but are not limited to, ultrasonic oxygen sensors, electrical oxygen sensors, chemical oxygen sensors, and optical oxygen sensors. In one implementation, oxygen sensor 165 is an ultrasonic oxygen sensor that includes an ultrasonic emitter 166 and an ultrasonic receiver 168. In some implementations, ultrasonic emitter 166 may include multiple ultrasonic emitters and ultrasonic receiver 168 may include multiple ultrasonic receivers. In implementations having multiple emitters/receivers, the multiple ultrasonic emitters and multiple ultrasonic receivers may be axially aligned (e.g., across the gas flow path which may be perpendicular to the axial alignment).

[0124] In use, an ultrasonic sound wave from emitter 166 may be directed through oxygen enriched air disposed in chamber 162 to receiver 168. The ultrasonic oxygen sensor 165 may be configured to detect the speed of sound through the oxygen enriched air to determine the composition of the oxygen enriched air. The speed of sound is different in nitrogen and oxygen, and in a mixture of the two gases, the speed of sound through the mixture may be an intermediate value proportional to the relative amounts of each gas in the mixture. In use, the sound at the receiver 168 is slightly out of phase with the sound sent from emitter 166. This phase shift is due to the relatively slow velocity of sound through a gas medium as compared with the relatively fast speed of the electronic pulse through wire. The phase shift, then, is proportional to the distance between the emitter and the receiver and inversely proportional to the speed of sound through the expansion chamber 162. The density of the gas in the chamber affects the speed of sound through the expansion chamber and the density is proportional to the ratio of oxygen to nitrogen in the expansion chamber. Therefore, the phase shift can be used to measure the concentration of oxygen in the expansion chamber. In this manner the relative concentration of oxygen in the accumulator may be estimated as a function of one or more properties of a detected sound wave traveling through the accumulator.

[0125] In some implementations, multiple emitters 166 and receivers 168 may be used. The readings from the emitters 166 and receivers 168 may be averaged to reduce errors that may be inherent in turbulent flow systems. In some implementations, the presence of other gases may also be detected by measuring the transit time and comparing the measured transit time to predetermined transit times for other gases and/or mixtures of gases.

[0126] The sensitivity of the ultrasonic sensor system may be increased by increasing the distance between the emitter 166 and receiver 168, for example to allow several sound wave cycles to occur between emitter 166 and the receiver 168. In some implementations, if at least two sound cycles are present, the influence of structural changes of the transducer may be reduced by measuring the phase shift relative to a fixed reference at two points in time. If the earlier phase shift is subtracted from the later phase shift, the shift caused by thermal expansion of expansion chamber 162 may be reduced or cancelled. The shift caused by a change of the distance between the emitter 166 and receiver 168 may be approximately the same at the measuring intervals, whereas a change owing to a change in oxygen concentration may be cumulative. In some implementations, the shift measured at a later time may be multiplied by the number of intervening cycles and compared to the shift between two adjacent cycles. Further details regarding sensing of oxygen in the expansion chamber may be found, for example, in U.S. Published Patent Application No. 2009-0065007, published March 12, 2009, and entitled “Oxygen Concentrator Apparatus and Method”, which is incorporated herein by reference.

[0127] Flow rate sensor 185 may be used to determine the flow rate of gas flowing through the outlet system. Flow rate sensors that may be used include, but are not limited to: diaphragm/bellows flow meters; rotary flow meters (e.g. Hall effect flow meters); turbine flow meters; orifice flow meters; and ultrasonic flow meters. Flow rate sensor 185 may be coupled to controller 400. The rate of gas flowing through the outlet system may be an indication of the breathing volume of the user. Changes in the flow rate of gas flowing through the outlet system may also be used to determine a breathing rate of the user. Controller 400 may generate a control signal or trigger signal to control actuation of supply valve 160. Such control of actuation of the supply valve may be based on the breathing rate and/or breathing volume of the user, as estimated by flow rate sensor 185.

[0128] In some implementations, ultrasonic sensor 165 and, for example, flow rate sensor 185 may provide a measurement of an actual amount of oxygen being provided. For example, flow rate sensor 185 may measure a volume of gas (based on flow rate) provided and ultrasonic sensor 165 may provide the concentration of oxygen of the gas provided. These two measurements together may be used by controller 400 to determine an approximation of the actual amount of oxygen provided to the user.

[0129] Oxygen enriched air passes through flow rate sensor 185 to filter 187. Filter 187 removes bacteria, dust, granule particles, etc. prior to providing the oxygen enriched air to the user. The filtered oxygen enriched air passes through filter 187 to connector 190. Connector 190 may be a “Y” connector coupling the outlet of filter 187 to pressure sensor 194 and delivery conduit 192. Pressure sensor 194 may be used to monitor the pressure of the gas passing through conduit 192 to the user. In some implementations, pressure sensor 194 is configured to generate a signal that is proportional to the amount of positive or negative pressure applied to a sensing surface. Changes in pressure, sensed by pressure sensor 194, may be used to determine a breathing rate of a user, as well as the onset of inhalation (also referred to as the trigger instant) as described below. Controller 400 may control actuation of supply valve 160 based on the breathing rate and/or onset of inhalation of the user. In an implementation, controller 400 may control actuation of supply valve 160 based on information provided by either or both of the flow rate sensor 185 and the pressure sensor 194. [0130] Oxygen enriched air may be provided to a user through conduit 192. In an implementation, conduit 192 may be a silicone tube. Conduit 192 may be coupled to a user using an airway delivery device 196, as depicted in FIGS. 7 and 8. Airway delivery device 196 may be any device capable of providing the oxygen enriched air to nasal cavities or oral cavities. Examples of airway delivery devices include, but are not limited to: nasal masks, nasal pillows, nasal prongs, nasal cannulas, and mouthpieces. A nasal cannula airway delivery device 196 is depicted in Fig. 7. Airway delivery device 196 is positioned proximate to a user’s airway (e.g., proximate to the user’s mouth and or nose) to allow delivery of the oxygen enriched air to the user while allowing the user to breathe air from the surroundings.

[0131] In an alternate implementation, a mouthpiece may be used to provide oxygen enriched air to the user. As shown in Fig. 8, a mouthpiece 198 may be coupled to oxygen concentrator 100. Mouthpiece 198 may be the only device used to provide oxygen enriched air to the user, or a mouthpiece may be used in combination with a nasal airway delivery device 196 (e.g., a nasal cannula). As depicted in Fig. 8, oxygen enriched air may be provided to a user through both a nasal airway delivery device 196 and a mouthpiece 198.

[0132] Mouthpiece 198 is removably positionable in a user’ s mouth. In one implementation, mouthpiece 198 is removably couplable to one or more teeth in a user’s mouth. During use, oxygen enriched air is directed into the user’s mouth via the mouthpiece. Mouthpiece 198 may be a night guard mouthpiece which is molded to conform to the user’s teeth. Alternatively, mouthpiece may be a mandibular repositioning device. In an implementation, at least a majority of the mouthpiece is positioned in a user’s mouth during use.

[0133] During use, oxygen enriched air may be directed to mouthpiece 198 when a change in pressure is detected proximate to the mouthpiece. In one implementation, mouthpiece 198 may be coupled to a pressure sensor 194. When a user inhales air through the user’s mouth, pressure sensor 194 may detect a drop in pressure proximate to the mouthpiece. Controller user at the onset of inhalation.

[0134] During typical breathing of an individual, inhalation may occur through the nose, through the mouth or through both the nose and the mouth. Furthermore, breathing may change from one passageway to another depending on a variety of factors. For example, during more active activities, a user may switch from breathing through their nose to breathing through their mouth, or breathing through their mouth and nose. A system that relies on a single mode of delivery (either nasal or oral), may not function properly if breathing through the monitored pathway is stopped. For example, if a nasal cannula is used to provide oxygen enriched air to the user, an inhalation sensor (e.g., a pressure sensor or flow rate sensor) is coupled to the nasal cannula to determine the onset of inhalation. If the user stops breathing through their nose, and switches to breathing through their mouth, the oxygen concentrator 100 may not know when to provide the oxygen enriched air since there is no feedback from the nasal cannula. Under such circumstances, oxygen concentrator 100 may increase the flow rate and/or increase the frequency of providing oxygen enriched air until the inhalation sensor detects an inhalation by the user. If the user switches between breathing modes often, the default mode of providing oxygen enriched air may cause the oxygen concentrator 100 to work harder, limiting the portable usage time of the system.

[0135] In an implementation, a mouthpiece 198 is used in combination with a nasal airway delivery device 196 (e.g., a nasal cannula) to provide oxygen enriched air to a user, as depicted in Fig. 8. Both mouthpiece 198 and nasal airway delivery device 196 are coupled to an inhalation sensor. In one implementation, mouthpiece 198 and nasal airway delivery device 196 are coupled to the same inhalation sensor. In an alternate implementation, mouthpiece 198 and nasal airway delivery device 196 are coupled to different inhalation sensors. In either implementation, the inhalation sensor(s) may detect the onset of inhalation from either the mouth or the nose. Oxygen concentrator 100 may be configured to provide oxygen enriched air to the delivery device (i.e. mouthpiece 198 or nasal airway delivery device 196) proximate to which the onset of inhalation was detected. Alternatively, oxygen enriched air may be provided to both mouthpiece 198 and nasal airway delivery device 196 if onset of inhalation is detected proximate either delivery device. The use of a dual delivery system, such as depicted in Fig. 8 may be particularly useful for users when they are sleeping and may switch between nose breathing and mouth breathing without conscious effort.

Controller System

[0136] Operation of oxygen concentrator 100 may be performed automatically using an internal controller 400 coupled to various components of the oxygen concentrator 100, as described herein. Controller 400 includes one or more processors 410 and internal memory 420, as depicted in Fig. 2. Methods used to operate and monitor oxygen concentrator 100 may be implemented by program instructions stored in internal memory 420 or an external memory medium coupled to controller 400, and executed by one or more processors 410. A memory medium may include any of various types of memory devices or storage devices. The term “memory medium” is intended to include an installation medium, e.g., a Compact Disc Read Only Memory (CD-ROM), floppy disks, or tape device; a computer system memory or random access memory such as Dynamic Random Access Memory (DRAM), Double Data Rate Random Access Memory (DDR RAM), Static Random Access Memory (SRAM), Extended Data Out Random Access Memory (EDO RAM), Random Access Memory (RAM), etc.; or a non-volatile memory such as a magnetic medium, e.g., a hard drive, or optical storage. The memory medium may comprise other types of memory as well, or combinations thereof. In addition, the memory medium may be located proximate to the controller 400 by which the programs are executed, or may be located in an external computing device that connects to the controller 400 over a network, such as the Internet. In the latter instance, the external computing device may provide program instructions to the controller 400 for execution. The term “memory medium” may include two or more memory media that may reside in different locations, e.g., in different computing devices that are connected over a network.

[0137] In some implementations, controller 400 includes processor 410 that includes, for example, one or more field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs), microcontrollers, etc. included on a circuit board disposed in oxygen concentrator 100. Processor 410 is configured to execute programming instructions stored in memory 420. In some implementations, programming instructions may be built into processor 410 such that a memory external to the processor 410 may not be separately accessed (i.e., the memory 420 may be internal to the processor 410). [0138] Processor 410 may be coupled to various components and sub-systems of oxygen concentrator 100 (e.g., sub-systems associated with 1704, 1706, 1708 of Fig. 17), including, but not limited to compression system 200, one or more of the pumps or valves used to control moisture and/or fluid flow through the system (e.g., valves 122, 124, 132, 134, 152, 154, 160), oxygen sensor 165, pressure sensor 194, flow rate sensor 185, temperature sensors (not shown), fan 172, and any other component that may be electrically controlled. In some implementations, a separate processor (and/or memory) may be coupled to one or more of the components.

[0139] Controller 400 is configured (e.g., programmed by program instructions) to operate oxygen concentrator 100 and is further configured to monitor the oxygen concentrator 100 such as for malfunction states or other process information. For example, in one implementation, controller 400 is programmed to trigger an alarm if the system is operating and no breathing is detected by the user for a predetermined amount of time. For example, if controller 400 does not detect a breath for a period of 75 seconds, an alarm LED may be lit and/or an audible alarm may be sounded. If the user has truly stopped breathing, for example, during a sleep apnea episode, the alarm may be sufficient to awaken the user, causing the user to resume breathing. The action of breathing may be sufficient for controller 400 to reset this alarm function. Alternatively, if the system is accidentally left on when delivery conduit 192 is removed from the user, the alarm may serve as a reminder for the user to turn oxygen concentrator 100 off.

[0140] Controller 400 is further coupled to oxygen sensor 165, and may be programmed for continuous or periodic monitoring of the oxygen concentration of the oxygen enriched air passing through expansion chamber 162. A minimum oxygen concentration threshold may be programmed into controller 400, such that the controller lights an LED visual alarm and/or an audible alarm to warn the user of the low concentration of oxygen.

[0141] Controller 400 is also coupled to internal power supply 180 and may be configured to monitor the level of charge of the internal power supply. A minimum voltage and/or current threshold may be programmed into controller 400, such that the controller lights an LED visual alarm and/or an audible alarm to warn the user of low power condition. The alarms may be activated intermittently and at an increasing frequency as the battery approaches zero usable charge.

[0142] The controller of the POC may implement compressor control to regulate pressure in the system. Thus, the POC may be equipped with a pressure sensor such as in the accumulator downstream of the sieve beds. The controller 400 in the POC 100 can control adjusting of the speed of the compressor using signals from the pressure sensor as well as a motor speed sensor such as in one or more modes. In this regard, the controller may implement dual control modes, designated a coarse pressure regulation mode and a fine pressure regulation mode. The coarse pressure regulation mode may be implemented for changing between the different flow rate settings (or “flow settings”) of the POC and for starting / initial activation. The fine pressure regulation mode may then take over upon completion of each operation of the coarse pressure regulation mode.

[0143] Additionally, the controller of the POC may be configured to implement bolus control to regulate bolus size in the system, which may optionally be implemented without use of a flow rate sensor of the POC. For example, the POC may be equipped with a pressure sensor, such as in the accumulator downstream of the sieve beds, and regulate bolus size, generated by the POC, as a function of pressure. Such regulation of bolus size may be a function of pressure and valve timing.

Control Panel

[0144] Control panel 600 serves as an interface between a user and controller 400 to allow the user to initiate predetermined operation modes of the oxygen concentrator 100 and to monitor the status of the system. Fig. 14 depicts an implementation of control panel 600. Charging input port 605, for charging the internal power supply 180, may be disposed in control panel 600.

[0145] In some implementations, control panel 600 may include buttons to activate various operation modes for the oxygen concentrator 100. For example, control panel may include power button 610, flow rate setting buttons 620 to 626, active mode button 630, sleep mode button 635, altitude button 640, and a battery check button 650. In some implementations, one or more of the buttons may have a respective LED that may illuminate when the respective button is pressed, and may power off when the respective button is pressed again. Power button 610 may power the system on or off. If the power button is activated to turn the system off, controller 400 may initiate a shutdown sequence to place the system in a shutdown state (e.g., a state in which both canisters are pressurized). Flow rate setting buttons 620, 622, 624, and 626 allow a flow rate of oxygen enriched air to be selected (e.g., 0.2 LPM by button 620, 0.4 LPM by button 622, 0.6 LPM by button 624, and 0.8 LPM by button 626). Altitude button 640 may be activated when a user is going to be in a location at a higher elevation than the oxygen concentrator 100 is regularly used by the user.

[0146] Battery check button 650 initiates a battery check routine in the oxygen concentrator 100 which results in a relative battery power remaining LED 655 being illuminated on control panel 600.

[0147] A user may have a low breathing rate or depth if relatively inactive (e.g., asleep, sitting, etc.) as estimated by comparing the detected breathing rate or depth to a threshold. The user may have a high breathing rate or depth if relatively active (e.g., walking, exercising, etc.). An active/sleep mode may be estimated automatically and/or the user may manually indicate active mode or sleep mode by pressing button 630 for active mode or button 635 for sleep mode.

Moisture Management Systems

[0148] As previously mentioned, the POC 100 may implement a moisture management system with one or more components for managing moisture (or moisture conditioning). Such a system may be implemented to remove moisture from incoming ambient air (i.e. feed gas) and re-introduce such moisture to outgoing oxygen-enriched air for breathing by a user. Such a system may be considered in relation to the gas flow diagram of Fig. 17. As illustrated, ambient air AA may contain moisture due to ambient humidity. Consequently, humid ambient air HAA may be drawn into the POC 100 system by a compressor of the compression system 200 (not shown in Fig. 17) so as to become a flow of pressurized humid ambient air PHAA. Optionally, the feed gas may be applied to a contaminant filtration module 1702 (e.g., a filter) as previously described so as to remove one or more airborne contaminants from the incoming ambient air. For example, the contaminant filtration module 1702 may be configured to remove dust and/or allergen particles from the humid ambient air HAA prior to the humid ambient air HAA entering the compressor of the compression system 200. Subsequently, the resultant cleaned humid ambient air HAA which becomes pressurized humid ambient air PHAA may be applied to a pathway of a moisture separation sub-system 1704 (e.g., a separator). The pathway of the separator 1704 may be configured to remove moisture M from the pressurized humid ambient air PHAA so as to produce a drier ambient air DAA. As previously described, such drier ambient air DAA may then serve as the feed gas for the gas adsorption processes (e.g., PSA cycles) in the sieve bed(s) as previously described in the concentration sub-system 1708 of the POC 100. Thus, the concentration sub-system 1708 may produce a dried oxygen enriched air DOEA. The removed moisture M may optionally be applied to a pathway of a moisture transport sub-system 1706 (e.g., an aqueduct) so that the moisture M may be transferred to a location suitable for re-application of the removed moisture M into the product gas produced by the concentration sub-system 1708. The pathway of the aqueduct 1706 may transport the moisture M to a moisture containment module 1710 (e.g., a reservoir such as a containment tank) or other location where the moisture M may be collected. Such a reservoir 1710 may include a pathway for re-applying the moisture M of the reservoir 1710 (or collector 1710) to the dried oxygen enriched air DOEA. Thus, the reservoir 1710 may humidify the dried oxygen enriched air DOEA to produce a humidified oxygen enriched air HOEA. The humidified oxygen enriched air HOEA may then be released from the POC 100 at an outlet port 174. Consequently, oxygen enriched air with moisture OEAM may be released to the patient or user of the POC 100.

[0149] The separator 1704 may have various configurations for drawing moisture out of the humid ambient air. For example, the separator 1704 may include a pathway with a wicking material or other porous or hydrophilic material, or water vapor permeable membrane, to promote water separation from air. In some implementations, the wicking material or membrane of the separator 1704, or a conduit pathway of the separator 1704, may be formed of aNafion™ polymer, which is a copolymer of tetrafluoroethylene (Teflon®) and perfluoro- 3,6-dioxa-4-methyl-7-octene-sulfonic acid. The separator 1704 may optionally include a condenser, such as a condenser coil and/or material. Portions of the condenser may be in the pathway of the separator 1704 to provide a level of cooling of the feed gas in the separator 1704. For example, such a condenser may serve as a circulator of a cooling fluid so that the condenser may have a relatively cool temperature when compared to the feed gas. Thus, the condenser may optionally include a pump or compressor for moving a cooling fluid/gas through the condenser via a coil portion. Such components may be operated or controlled by one or more control signals generated by controller 400 of the POC 100, so as to maintain a desired temperature set point in the separator 1704. Thus, the separator 1704 may optionally include a temperature sensor (not shown) to generate a temperature signal associated with the temperature in the separator 1704 for the controller 400 so that the controller may implement a temperature control loop with the condenser and temperature sensor. [0150] In some implementations, the pathway of the separator 1704 may be circuitous. Such a pathway may help to maximize contact surface area between the feed gas and the moisture wicking material or membrane of the pathway. In some implementations, the pathway of the separator 1704 may also be configured as a centrifuge. Thus, the pathway may be configured to induce the feed gas into a centrifugal flow within the separator 1704. Such a centrifugal flow may thereby force the feed gas to circulate so as to promote a radial directional force within the separator 1704. Such forced circulation may increase the interaction between the feed gas and an outer structure or material, such as a cylindrical membrane and/or wicking material, of the separator 1704 so that it attracts moisture from the feed gas. In some implementations, the separator 1704 may include various elements to induce such a centrifugal flow. For example, the pathway of the separator 1704 may include a helical and/or spiral flow path to induce the centrifugal flow. Optionally, the pathway may include a spin inducer or other flow director(s) such as fin(s) or other similar structure to guide such a flow. Optionally, the pathway may also be formed with a volute or be formed as a coil.

[0151] Examples of components of such systems for moisture conditioning may be considered in more detail in relation to the illustrated implementations shown in Figs. 18 to 21. In the cross-sectional illustration of the example of Fig. 18, a separator 1704 includes flow directors 1820 to implement a helical flow path 1822. The flow directors 1820 induce a centrifugal flow CF within the separator 1704. Such flow directors may be formed as a helical ring about an inner chamber surface or conduit surface of the separator 1704. Such flow directors may optionally be formed of a material of a conduit of the separator 1704 or other material described in more detail herein. Moisture from the pressurized humid ambient air PHAA may form in the helical flow path and wick into a wicking or hydrophilic surface 1830. The wicking or hydrophilic material such as at the surface 1830 may be configured as an inner cylindrical surface of the separator that encompasses the helical flow path 1822. Moisture M may be absorbed by such a wicking surface as the pressurized humid ambient air PHAA rotates along the pathway of the separator 1704. Such pressurized state within the separator may also assist the outward wicking of the moisture.

[0152] Moisture M wicked or absorbed at the surface 1830 may be transferred to a reservoir 1710 shown as a tank or other container which may be configured as a pass over humidifier. The reservoir 1710 may include a pathway through which the dried oxygen enriched air DOEA from the accumulator 106 of the POC 100 becomes humidified oxygen enriched air HOEA. Along such a pathway, the dried oxygen enriched air DOEA may wick moisture from the contained moisture of the reservoir 1710. In the implementation of Fig. 18, collected moisture from the surface 1830 is transported via an aqueduct 1706. Such an aqueduct may optionally include one or more conduits (e.g., tubing), one or more valves (e.g., gate valves) and/or one or more pumps to induce the moisture to collect in the reservoir 1710. Such valve components may be moisture resistant. Optionally, such moisture may gravitate through the aqueduct as a result of a relatively lower position of the reservoir 1710. In some implementations, pressure from the compression system may be applied (e.g., periodically) via a conduit and a valve controlled by the controller to periodically induce transport of the moisture to the reservoir 1710 via the aqueduct 1706. In some implementations, the reservoir 1710 may include a heating element 1860, such as a heating coil, to warm the collected moisture to improve wicking by the product gas. The product gas may be released in a bolus or otherwise from the accumulator 106 by operation of the supply valve 160 (not shown in Fig. 18) as previously described (see Fig. 6), to the pathway of the reservoir 1710. The heating element 1860 may also serve to warm the product gas in the reservoir 1710 for user comfort. With such a system, the moisture drawn from the feed gas in the separator is effectively recycled back to the product gas via the pathways of the system. Optionally, such a reservoir 1710 may additionally include a water inlet (not shown) such as for adding water to the reservoir from a water supply external to the POC 100. For example, a user may pour water into an aperture of the housing of the POC 100 to add additional water to the reservoir 1710.

[0153] Fig. 19 shows another implementation of a moisture conditioning system similar to the example of Fig. 18. However, the implementation of Fig. 19 additionally implements a condenser, such as a condensor as previously described. A condenser coil 1940 may be applied to the helical flow path 1822 to lower gas temperature within the separator 1704. Such a lowering of temperature can increase moisture condensation within the separator 1704. Such a condenser coil may helically encircle a conduit of the separator 1704. Optionally, the condenser coil may be located at the surface 1830, and may follow the helical pathway. When at the surface 1830 it may more directly assist in lowering the temperature of the wicking material/structure of the surface 1830 and thereby promote condensation at the material of the surface 1830. [0154] Fig. 20 shows another implementation of a moisture conditioning system similar to the example of Fig. 19. However, the implementation of Fig. 20 more directly integrates its reservoir 1710 and separator 1704. In this implementation, an extended aqueduct 1706 is not required due to the proximity of the separator 1704 and reservoir 1710. In such an implementation, the moisture collects inside the reservoir 1710 at an outer, opposing side surface of the wicking material surface 1830. Thus, moisture transfers through the wicking material from the inner surface side of the wicking material surface 1830 that is inside the separator to thereby arrive in the reservoir 1710. As such, the moisture transport sub-system 1706 may be a material, such as the material through which the moisture moves including the wicking material surface 1830. In such an implementation, conduits, valves and/or pumps are not required for the aqueduct 1706. Movement of dried oxygen enriched air DOEA through reservoir 1710 wicks moisture from the outer, opposing side surface of the material surface 1830. Such recycling of the moisture from the material of the surface 1830 and back into the product gas (i.e., dried oxygen enriched air DOEA) increases the performance of the wicking material at the surface 1830 as the wicking material dries on the reservoir side so as to promote further wicking of moisture from the feed gas within the separator 1704 of Fig. 20 as the wicking material acts to achieve a wetted equilibrium.

[0155] Another example moisture conditioning system is illustrated in Figs. 21A and 21B, as well as Fig. 22. The figures illustrate an implementation of the present technology that is similar to Fig. 20 which includes a more directly proximate relationship between the separator 1704 and reservoir 1710. As illustrated, the separator 1704 is configured with a concentric helical formation utilizing multiple layers, such as two or more of an inner layer 2152, an outer layer 2150 and an outer membrane 2154. In this configuration, the two or more of the layers of the separator 1704 may serve as flow directors to form a helical pathway that induces the centrifugal flow as previously described. The moisture transport sub-system 1706 may then be made up of one or more layers of material(s), which may be different materials, that serve as a pathway for moisture to move through any two or more of the inner layer 2152, the outer layer 2150 and the outer membrane 2154. As such, the moisture transport sub-system 1706 may form part of the separator 1704. In some implementations, the inner layer 2152 may be directly adjacent to the outer layer 2150. In some implementations, the outer membrane 2154 may be directly adjacent to the outer layer 2150. In some implementations, an inner layer 2152 of the concentric helix may be formed with a condensing material (e.g., a circulator coil). Moreover, an outer layer 2150 of the concentric helix may be formed of a wicking material. In some implementations, the sequence of the inner layer 2152 and the outer layer 2150 may be interchanged such that the inner layer 2152 is an outer layer and the outer layer 2150 is an inner layer. The concentric helix may have a further outer membrane 2154 structure. For example, the separator 1704 may include a water vapor permeable membrane. The membrane may form a cylindrical structure that may serve as an outer boundary for the pathway of the separator 1704. For example, an inner surface of the water vapor permeable membrane may form a cylindrical surface around the plurality of layers of the concentric helix that form the pathway of the separator 1704. Moreover, an outer surface of the water vapor permeable membrane may form a cylindrical inner surface of a pathway of the reservoir 1710. Thus, the porous material of membrane 2154 may serve as one or more ducts to transfer moisture from the separator 1704 to the reservoir 1710. Thus, the pathway of the reservoir 1710 of Fig. 21A, like that of Fig. 20, permits wicking of moisture from an outside surface of the membrane 2154 into the product gas moving through the reservoir 1710. Although the pathway of the reservoir 1710 is shown as a generally direct path (e.g., non-circuitous), in some implementations, the pathway through the reservoir may optionally be implemented with one or more flow directors to induce a less direct flow (e.g., helical flow) through the reservoir. Such flow directors may form a helical path through the reservoir 1710 to increase the interaction (surface contact) between product gas and the collected moisture of the reservoir 1710. Such a modification may similarly be implemented with the moisture conditioning systems illustrated in remaining figures described herein (e.g., Figs. 18-20).

[0156] In the illustrated example of Fig. 21 A, the gas flow direction (arrow DOEA) through the pathway of the reservoir 1710 is illustrated in a generally opposing direction to that of the gas flow pathway (arrows PHAA) through the separator 1704. However, in some implementations, such directions may be reversed. Moreover, in some implementations, the flows of both may move in a generally common direction.

[0157] As previously mentioned, the example moisture conditioning system shown in in Fig. 22 is similar to the implementation of Fig. 21 A. Thus, the separator 1704 is configured with a concentric helical formation utilizing multiple layers such that the layers serve as flow directors to form a helical pathway for inducing the centrifugal flow as previously described. However, unlike the implementation of Fig. 21 A, the separator 1704 of Fig. 22 has a helical shape formed with a tapered end. The tapering thereby forms a vortex structure (e.g., a conic structure or a cone) such that the flow path spirals inward toward a central area as the flow path helically advances through the separator. In such an example, a first end FE of the separator 1704 may have an outer diameter (OD1) such as a diameter associated with an inner side surface of the membrane 2154. Moreover, a second end SE of the separator 1704 may have another outer diameter (OD2) such as another diameter associated with an inner side surface of the membrane 2154. For example, the diameters (OD1 and OD2) may extend across a cavity within a conic surface of the separator 1704 that is formed by the inner surface side of the membrane 2154. Thus, each diameter may extend from the inner surface side on one side of the cavity to an inner surface side on an opposing side of the cavity. Each diameter may then pass through an imaginary central axis CA that is a central axis of the conic surface of the separator 1704 that passes through the cavity of the conic surface. In order to form such a vortex structure, the outer diameter (OD1) associated with a first end of the separator may be larger than the outer diameter (OD2) associated with a second end of the separator. Such a structure may assist with encouraging moisture collection of condensed moisture toward a lower portion of the structure.

Methods of operating the POC

[0158] The methods of operating and monitoring the POC 100 described below may be executed by the one or more processors, such as the one or more processors 410 of the controller 400, configured by program instructions, such as including, as previously described, the one or more functions and/or associated data corresponding thereto, stored in a memory such as the memory 420 of the POC 100. Alternatively, some or all of the steps of the described methods may be similarly executed by one or more processors of an external computing device to which the controller is connected via the transceiver 430. In this latter implementation, the processors 410 may be configured by program instructions stored in the memory 420 of the POC 100 to transmit to the external computing device the measurements and parameters necessary for the performance of those steps that are to be carried out at the external computing device.

[0159] The main use of an oxygen concentrator 100 is to provide supplemental oxygen to a user. One or more flow rate settings may be selected on a control panel 600 of the oxygen concentrator 100, which then will control operations to achieve production of the oxygen enriched air according to the selected flow rate setting. In some implementations, a plurality of flow rate settings may be implemented (e.g., five flow rate settings). As described in more detail herein, the controller may implement a POD (pulsed oxygen delivery) or demand mode of operation to regulate size of one or more released boluses to achieve delivery of the oxygen enriched air according to the selected flow rate setting.

[0160] In order to maximise the effect of the delivered oxygen enriched air, controller 400 may be programmed to synchronise release of each bolus of the oxygen enriched air with the user’s inhalations. Releasing a bolus of oxygen enriched air to the user as the user inhales may prevent wastage of oxygen by not releasing oxygen, for example, when the user is exhaling. For concentrators that operate in POD mode, the flow rate settings on the control panel 600 may correspond to minute volumes (bolus volume multiplied by breathing rate per minute) of delivered oxygen, e.g. 0.2 LPM, 0.4 LPM, 0.6 LPM, 0.8 LPM, 1.1 LPM.

[0161] Oxygen enriched air produced by oxygen concentrator 100 is stored in an oxygen accumulator 106 and, in POD mode, released to the user as the user inhales. The amount of oxygen enriched air provided by the oxygen concentrator 100 is controlled, in part, by supply valve 160. In an implementation, supply valve 160 is opened for a sufficient amount of time to provide the appropriate amount of oxygen enriched air, as estimated by controller 400, to the user. In order to minimize the wastage of oxygen, the oxygen enriched air may be provided as a bolus soon after the onset of a user’s inhalation is detected. For example, the bolus of oxygen enriched air may be provided in the first few milliseconds of a user’s inhalation. [0162] In an implementation, pressure sensor 194 may be used to determine the onset of inhalation by the user. For example, the user’s inhalation may be detected by using pressure sensor 194. In use, conduit 192 for providing oxygen enriched air is coupled to a user’s nose and/or mouth through the nasal airway delivery device 196 and/or mouthpiece 198. The pressure in conduit 192 is therefore representative of the user’s airway pressure and therefore indicative of user respiration. At the onset of an inhalation, the user begins to draw air into their body through the nose and/or mouth. As the air is drawn in, a negative pressure is generated at the end of the conduit 192, due, in part, to the venturi action of the air being drawn across the end of the conduit. Controller 400 analyses the pressure signal from the pressure sensor 194 to detect a drop in pressure indicating the onset of inhalation. Upon detection of the onset of inhalation, supply valve 160 is opened to release a bolus of oxygen enriched air from the accumulator 106. A positive change or rise in the pressure indicates an exhalation by the user, upon which the release of oxygen enriched air is discontinued. In one implementation, when a positive pressure change is sensed, supply valve 160 is closed until the next onset of inhalation is detected. Alternatively, supply valve 160 may be closed after a predetermined interval known as the bolus duration. By measuring the intervals between adjacent onsets of inhalation, the user’s breathing rate may be estimated. By measuring the intervals between onsets of inhalation and the subsequent onsets of exhalation, the user’s inspiratory time may be estimated. Thus, the user’s breathing rate or respiration rate may be detected with a signal from the pressure sensor and/or a flow rate sensor.

[0163] In other implementations, the pressure sensor 194 may be located in a sensing conduit that is in pneumatic communication with the user’s airway, but separate from the delivery conduit 192. In such implementations the pressure signal from the pressure sensor 194 is therefore also representative of the user’s airway pressure.

[0164] In some implementations, the sensitivity of the pressure sensor 194 may be affected by the physical distance of the pressure sensor 194 from the user, especially if the pressure sensor 194 is located in oxygen concentrator 100 and the pressure difference is detected through the conduit 192 coupling the oxygen concentrator 100 to the user. In some implementations, the pressure sensor 194 may be placed in the airway delivery device 196 used to provide the oxygen enriched air to the user. A signal from the pressure sensor 194 may be provided to controller 400 in the oxygen concentrator 100 electronically via a wire or through telemetry such as through Bluetooth™ or other wireless technology.

[0165] In some implementations, if the user’s current activity level, such as that estimated using the detected user’s breathing rate, exceeds a predetermined threshold, controller 400 may implement an alarm (e.g., visual and/or audio) to warn the user that the current breathing rate is exceeding the delivery capacity of the oxygen concentrator 100. For example, the threshold may be set at 40 breaths per minute (BPM).

Glossary

[0166] For the purposes of the present technology disclosure, in certain forms of the present technology, one or more of the following definitions may apply. In other forms of the present technology, alternative definitions may apply. [0167] Air: In certain forms of the present technology, air may be taken to mean atmospheric air, consisting of 78% nitrogen (N2), 21% oxygen (O2), and 1% water vapour, carbon dioxide (CO2), argon (Ar), and other trace gases.

[0168] Oxygen enriched air: Air with a concentration of oxygen greater than that of atmospheric air (21%), for example at least about 50% oxygen, at least about 60% oxygen, at least about 70% oxygen, at least about 80% oxygen, at least about 90% oxygen, at least about 95% oxygen, at least about 98% oxygen, or at least about 99% oxygen. “Oxygen enriched air” is sometimes shortened to “oxygen”.

[0169] Medical Oxygen: Medical oxygen is defined as oxygen enriched air with an oxygen concentration of 80% or greater.

[0170] Ambient: In certain forms of the present technology, the term ambient will be taken to mean (i) external of the treatment system or user, and (ii) immediately surrounding the treatment system or user.

[0171] Flow rate: The volume (or mass) of air delivered per unit time. Flow rate may refer to an instantaneous quantity. In some cases, a reference to flow rate will be a reference to a scalar quantity, namely a quantity having magnitude only. In other cases, a reference to flow rate will be a reference to a vector quantity, namely a quantity having both magnitude and direction. Flow rate may be given the symbol Q. ‘Flow rate’ is sometimes shortened to simply ‘flow’ or ‘airflow’.

[0172] Patient: A person, whether or not they are suffering from a respiratory disorder. [0173] Pressure: Force per unit area. Pressure may be expressed in a range of units, including cmFhO, g-f/cm2 and hectopascal. 1 cmFhO is equal to 1 g-f/cm2 and is approximately 0.98 hectopascal (1 hectopascal = 100 Pa = 100 N/m 2 = 1 millibar ~ 0.001 atm). In this specification, unless otherwise stated, pressure is given in units of cmFhO.

[0174] Port, orifice opening: “port”, “orifice” and “opening” are used interchangeably.

General remarks

[0175] The term “coupled” as used herein means either a direct connection or an indirect connection (e.g., one or more intervening connections) between one or more objects or components. The phrase “connected” means a direct connection between objects or components such that the objects or components are connected directly to each other. As used herein the phrase “obtaining” a device means that the device is either purchased or constructed. [0176] In the present disclosure, certain U.S. patents, U.S. patent applications, and other materials (e.g., articles) have been incorporated by reference. The text of such U.S. patents, U.S. patent applications, and other materials is, however, only incorporated by reference to the extent that no conflict exists between such text and the other statements and drawings set forth herein. In the event of such conflict, then any such conflicting text in such incorporated by reference U.S. patents, U.S. patent applications, and other materials is specifically not incorporated by reference in this patent.

Other Remarks

[0177] Unless the context clearly dictates otherwise and where a range of values is provided, it is understood that each intervening value, to the tenth of the unit of the lower limit, between the upper and lower limit of that range, and any other stated or intervening value in that stated range is encompassed within the technology. The upper and lower limits of these intervening ranges, which may be independently included in the intervening ranges, are also encompassed within the technology, subject to any specifically excluded limit in the stated range. Where the stated range includes one or both of the limits, ranges excluding either or both of those included limits are also included in the technology.

[0178] Furthermore, where a value or values are stated herein as being implemented as part of the technology, it is understood that such values may be approximated, unless otherwise stated, and such values may be utilized to any suitable significant digit to the extent that a practical technical implementation may permit or require it.

[0179] Unless defined otherwise, all technical and scientific terms used herein have the same meaning as commonly understood by one of ordinary skill in the art to which this technology belongs. Although any methods and materials similar or equivalent to those described herein can also be used in the practice or testing of the present technology, a limited number of the exemplary methods and materials are described herein.

[0180] When a particular material is identified as being used to construct a component, obvious alternative materials with similar properties may be used as a substitute. Furthermore, unless specified to the contrary, any and all components herein described are understood to be capable of being manufactured and, as such, may be manufactured together or separately. It must be noted that as used herein and in the appended claims, the singular forms "a", "an", and "the" include their plural equivalents, unless the context clearly dictates otherwise. [0181] All publications mentioned herein are incorporated herein by reference in their entirety to disclose and describe the methods and/or materials which are the subject of those publications. The publications discussed herein are provided solely for their disclosure prior to the filing date of the present application. Nothing herein is to be construed as an admission that the present technology is not entitled to antedate such publication by virtue of prior invention. Further, the dates of publication provided may be different from the actual publication dates, which may need to be independently confirmed.

[0182] The terms "comprises" and "comprising" should be interpreted as referring to elements, components, or steps in a non-exclusive manner, indicating that the referenced elements, components, or steps may be present, or utilized, or combined with other elements, components, or steps that are not expressly referenced.

[0183] The subject headings used in the detailed description are included only for the ease of reference of the reader and should not be used to limit the subject matter found throughout the disclosure or the claims. The subject headings should not be used in construing the scope of the claims or the claim limitations.

[0184] Although the technology herein has been described with reference to particular examples, it is to be understood that these examples are merely illustrative of the principles and applications of the technology. In some instances, the terminology and symbols may imply specific details that are not required to practice the technology. For example, although the terms "first" and "second" may be used, unless otherwise specified, they are not intended to indicate any order but may be utilised to distinguish between distinct elements. Furthermore, although process steps in the methodologies may be described or illustrated in an order, such an ordering is not required. Those skilled in the art will recognize that such ordering may be modified and/or aspects thereof may be conducted concurrently or even synchronously.

[0185] It is therefore to be understood that numerous modifications may be made to the illustrative examples and that other arrangements may be devised without departing from the spirit and scope of the technology. Further modifications and alternative implementations of various aspects of the present technology may be apparent to those skilled in the art in view of this description. Accordingly, this description is to be construed as illustrative only and is for the purpose of teaching those skilled in the art the general manner of carrying out the technology. It is to be understood that the forms of the technology shown and described herein are to be taken as implementations. Elements and materials may be substituted for those illustrated and described herein, parts and processes may be reversed, and certain features of the technology may be utilized independently, all as would be apparent to one skilled in the art after having the benefit of this description of the technology. Changes may be made in the elements described herein without departing from the spirit and scope of the technology as described in the appended claims.

Label List oxygen concentrator 100 inlet 101 compression system inlets 105 inlet 105 accumulator 106 accumulator pressure sensor 107 muffler 108 valves 122 valves 124 filter 129 outlet 130 valves 132 muffler 133 valves 134 hundred thirty - five 135 spring baffle 139 baffle 139 check valve 142 check valve 144 flow restrictor 151 valve 152 flow restrictor 153 valve 154 flow restrictor 155 supply valve 160 expansion chamber 162 oxygen sensor 165 emitter 166 recerver 168 outer housing 170 fan 172 outlet 173 outlet port 174 flow restrictor 175 power supply 180 flow rate sensor 185 filter 187 connector 190 conduit 192 pressure sensor 194 airway delivery device 196 mouthpiece 198 compression system 200 speed sensor 201 compressor 210 compressor outlet 212 motor 220 armature 230 external armature 230 air transfer device 240 compressor outlet conduit 250 canister assembly 300 canister 302 canister 304 air inlet 306 housing 310 base 315 valve seats 322 outlet 325 gases 327 conduit 330 valve seats 332 apertures 337 conduit 342 conduit 344 conduit 346 opening 375 controller 400 processor 410 memory 420 transceiver 430 housing component 510 conduit 530 conduit 532 conduit 534 openings 542 opening 544 valve seat 552 valve seat 554 control panel 600 input port 605 power button 610 flow rate setting buttons 620 flow rate setting buttons 622 button 624 button 626 active mode button 630 mode button 635 altitude button 640 battery check button 650

LED 655 canister 702 canister 704 inlet 706 inlet 708 outlet 710 outlet 712 mechanism 800 manifold 804 container portion 1504 cap portions 1508 mounting flanges 1510 flange portion 1511 compartment 1602 portal 1604 manifold 1606 outlet couplings 1608 couplings 1609 cooling system outlets 1671 battery compartment 1665 lid 1666 battery compartment lid 1667 button 1669 port 1673 removable panel 1675 cooling system inlets 1677 contaminant filtration module 1702 moisture separation sub - system 1704 moisture transport sub - system 1706 concentration sub - system 1708 moisture containment module 1710 flow directors 1820 helical flow path 1822 material surface 1830 heating element 1860 condenser coil 1940 outer layer 2150 inner layer 2152 outer membrane 2154