Medical Gas Industry Frequently Asked Questions

If you are a hospital, lab, outpatient surgery center, dental lab or other healthcare facility in need of medical air and gas solutions in North Carolina or Virginia, there are several questions you should ask when evaluating a service provider. Below are our top 8 FAQs to be aware of during the process.

Can you use Medical Air as Climate Control air?

Medical air sources shall be connected to the medical air distribution only and used for air in the application of human respiration and calibration for medical devices for respiratory application. NFPA 99-2012.

Is an Oil-Free screw compressor accepted for Medical Air?

Yes. Rotating element compressors provided with a compression chamber free of oil can be allowed. NFPA 99-2012.

What is the required dew point of Medical Air dryers?

Maximum dew point is below the frost point of 32 degrees F at 50 to 55 PSI and any level of demand. NFPA 99-2012.

What about my Intake for Medical Air, can I put it anywhere?

No, it needs to be a clean air source, 25 feet from ventilating systems, vents and other exhausts. It also needs to be a minimum of 20 feet above the ground and 10 feet from any door, window or other opening into the building. NFPA 99-2012.

Can we put the exhaust for the Medical Vacuum anywhere in the basement or in a corridor?

No, it has to be outdoors, at least 10ft from any window, door, air intake or other opening into the building. It also needs to be at a different level from other air intakes where prevailing winds or  topography could not divert the exhaust into occupied areas. NFPA 99-2012.

What is WAGD?

Waste Anesthetic Gas Disposal. WAGD systems provide the proper evacuation of potentially hazardous waste anesthetic gases during the administration of anesthesia to patients.

Does everyone that installs Medical Air and Vacuum need ASSE 6010 certification?

Yes, this is the Professional Standard for Medical Gas installers.

What is the new ASSE 6040 qualification?

This standard applies to persons maintaining, testing and inspecting medical air and vacuum systems. Training and certification can be accomplished through the Healthcare facility by which such persons are employed to work with specific equipment or Credentialing for Professional Qualification Standard for Medical Gas Maintenance Personal. NFPA 99-2012

Visit our site for more on medical gas solutions in Virginia and North Carolina.

Why Should I Change My Filter Element?

The primary reason to replace filter elements every 12 months is to maintain air quality. Filter elements remove contaminants for specific air quality treatment pursuant to the manufacturing industry and the international standards for compressed air quality. Once the 12-month filter life has passed, the required air quality is no longer being maintained.

What about the differential pressure gauge fitted on the filter showing that the needle is in the green range? The differential pressure gauge is only an indicator or premature blockage. It only reflects the measure of the differential pressure not whether the filter should be changed.

However, the differential pressure gauge can alert you to pressure spikes that can rupture the filter element instantly, passing contaminated air through the filter into the compressed air system. If the filter element is damaged, even with a pin-point sized hole, the filter can rupture. Filter elements are constantly bombarded by high-velocity particulate matter as well as acidic condensates – oil, chemical additives, even hot water. 12 months of this type of operation and the filter media is more than ready to be changed.

Avoid getting contaminates in the compressed air system. Change the filter element once every 12 months.

Reducing Costs with Nitrogen Generators

By Robert Glover

Parker Hannifin FNS Division

There are typically two ways to increase profit. First,
you can increase your price. The second is to reduce your cost.

Increasing your price is necessary at times but comes with it some inherent potential of lost business to competition or uncomfortable
conversations with your best customers. Reducing cost is a great option, when it’s available. Your suppliers aren’t eager to reduce their profit so getting price concessions isn’t easy.  That is, unless you could change the rules of the game and produce what others would sell you at a premium.

High pressure cylinder rental can be expensive and difficult to mange.

If a supply of nitrogen is in your cost profile, then you may be able to do just that with the simple addition of a nitrogen generator. A nitrogen generator simply uses a supply of compressed air and, through time tested and simple technology separates out the N2 you need.

Is a nitrogen generator right for you?

It’s common for a gas company to charge their customers per 100 cubic feet of nitrogen delivered. The price for each 100 cubic feet of gas is usually between 35 cents and 60 or 70 cents but can be more than $1.00 or $2.00 depending on the delivery method. The operational cost to produce your
own nitrogen is typically between 12 cents and 18 cents. The majority of this figure is made up of the electrical cost to run the compressed air system so will vary with your price per kw/h.

Having your own Nitrogen Generation System gives you complete control over your purity, meeting your demand and your costs.

It’s this difference (20 cents or more per 100 cubic feet of N2 used) that pays back the capitol and, eventually, provides for the
savings mentioned above. The more consistently you use your nitrogen supply the faster the payback and better the long term savings. Sites using nitrogen 40 hours a week will usually see a 2 to 3 year payback on the capitol while those using it 24/7/365 can see a 6 to 8 month return on their investment. A well-made generator will not require a major overhaul for 10 to 15 years. There are several specifics to each site which will increase or decrease the speed of ROI. These specifics can be quickly reviewed and discussed with a qualified N2 generator specialist.

The next time you have to choose between reduced profit and a price increase, have a look at your nitrogen bill and then contact Lewis Systems. After a free, initial consultation you’ll know if you can reduce your operating cost and keep your profit in house where it belongs.

Robert Glover is the Market Development Manager for Nitrogen Generation Systems at Parker Hannifin FNS Division.  

Compressed Air System Audit – Features & Benefits

With increasing energy costs and a growing demand to be “greener”, the performance and efficiency of your compressed air systems has never been more important.  Potential energy savings not only reduce the environmental impact of your business, they can also improve your bottom line.  This is why you should seriously consider having a professional compressed air system audit.  An audit of this kind should provide a comprehensive evaluation of your plant’s current operating practice and system performance.  Once you have this data in your hand, the potential benefits for performance gains and energy savings are many.

Having a detailed analysis of your compressed air system will help in identifying improvements that can be made.  Restrictions in your piping due to sizing mistakes or old pipes with rust and scale build up can be a cause of pressure loss.  Reviewing your “peak” usage times can help identify posible changes in your production process to help reduce demand.  An audit will help ensure that your plant has the proper sized storage to prevent excessive compressor cycling and ensuring you meet periods of peak demand.  A complete analysis will also allow your control systems to be reviewed.  Poorly designed control systems can result in too many compressors running or running at at higher pressure than you really need.  Both of these have huge impacts on your energy consumption and cost. An audit can tell you what’s wrong with your system controls and overall design.

Most people don’t realize what the actual cost is to operate their system and how it effects their production process and quality. Once you have a compressed air system audit completed, you will see a comprehensive picture of what the real costs are.  Then can you consider evaluating savings or other potential improvements and changes. You will be able to save money and energy as well as reduce your carbon footprint.  If you would like to find out more about our Air Audit Services, please contact us and we’ll be happy to show you how to get the best out of your compressed air system.

Variable Speed Rotary Screw Compressors

One of the biggest advances lately in the air compressor industry has undoubtedly been the introduction of the variable speed rotary screw compressor.  With increasing demand for energy-efficient products, this technology has become very popular.  Just about every major compressor manufacturer has a variable speed product.  So let’s take a look at some of the benefits of implementing variable speed compressors and some things you should look for in a variable speed compressor.

Variable Speed Compressors can efficiently and reliably handle the varying air demand found in most plant air systems compared to other compressor types.  These compressors utilize variable speed drives to speed up and slow down the motor, matching air supply to air demand as it fluctuates.  At full load in the upper flow range, most compressor types will perform pretty close to each other.  As air-flow decreases, however, VSD compressors begin to stand out against modulating and even variable displacement compressors.  Once your demand drops down to the middle and lower ranges the VSD savings become even greater.  So what you need to look for is an efficient performance CURVE, not just efficiency at a single point.  By curve we are talking about airflow over the entire speed range of the compressor (x axis) plotted against the power required (y axis) to produce the flow.

Some important things to think about when looking at Variable Speed compressors is how they are put together.  The motor, drive and airend should all be matched so that efficiency is high and constant over a broad speed range.  Be wary of manufacturers who simply “adapt” their current products to a variable speed drive and motor.

If a variable speed compressor has so much potential to deliver such a low electrical cost compared to fixed speed compressor why doesn’t everyone just run out and buy one?  Every compressed air system is unique.  Typically, air demand in a plant varies widely throughout the day.  In addition, fluctuations can occur from one shift to another, by the week and even seasonally.  You need someone to evaluate your unique, often complex requirements and recommend a tailored solution.  If done correctly, a Variable Speed Compressor should save you money and maximize your plant’s productivity.  If you have not had one done recently, a compressed air audit of your plant air system should be your first step.  Not only can it help you decide whether a variable speed compressor is right for you, but an air audit is a great way to uncover many ways to improve energy efficiency and cost savings.