MUST- Bughoye Health Centre Collaboration Pioneers Electricity-Free Oxygen SystemAmos Baryashaba
The Mbarara University of Science and Technology- Bughoye Health Centre Collaboration is finalizing the installation of a Siphon electricity-free Oxygen Concentrator at Bughoye Health Centre in the Kasese district of Uganda.
The initiative is a result of a collaboration between Mbarara University of Science and Technology and FREO2 Foundation, a not-for-profit health-promotion charity registered in the state of Victoria, Australia. The system has been designed to harness the energy of flowing water to directly produce oxygen. The validation of the technology has been done at Bughoye Health Centre, located at the foothills of the Rwenzori mountains at an altitude of approximately 1,200 metres. The health centre is also located on the bank of River Mubuku.
According to the local principal investigator, Assoc. Prof. Edgar Mulogo who is also the Head of the Community Health department in the Faculty of Medicine; the technology which is the world’s first electricity-free oxygen concentrator, was borne out of the shortage of oxygen supply for under-5 age children suffering from pneumonia and other severe illnesses at Bughoye Health Centre. Using electrically powered oxygen concentrators in rural areas poses known challenges due to unreliable supply of electricity to many parts of Uganda.
The innovation is initiated by an 8-metre high siphon pipe on the weir on the River Mubuku, through which water runs less than 1 Kilometre away from the Health centre.
An aerator near the top of siphon pipe generates a constant vacuum due to the low pressure. The vacuum is then carried through a buried pipe 600 metres to the Health Centre.
This vacuum is what is used to power the oxygen concentrator, making 3 litres per minute of >90% oxygen.
The low-pressure piping carries the oxygen to the bedside.