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The Physics, Clinical Measurement and Equipment of Anaesthetic Practice for the FRCA$
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Patrick Magee and Mark Tooley

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199595150

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199595150.001.0001

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Gas Supply and the Anaesthetic Machine

Gas Supply and the Anaesthetic Machine

Chapter 22 Gas Supply and the Anaesthetic Machine
The Physics, Clinical Measurement and Equipment of Anaesthetic Practice for the FRCA

Patrick Magee

Mark Tooley

Oxford University Press

In Europe and other advanced medical communities, medical gases are generally supplied by pipeline, with cylinders available as back up. Large hospitals usually have oxygen supplied and stored in liquid form, since one volume of it provides 840 volumes of gaseous oxygen at 15◦C. It is stored in a secure Vacuum Insulated Evaporator (VIE) on the hospital site. The arrangement is shown in Figure 22.1. The VIE consists of an insulated container, the inner layer of which is made of stainless steel, the outer of which is made of carbon steel. The liquid oxygen is stored in the inner container at about−160◦C (lower than the critical temperature of−118◦C) at a pressure of between 700 and 1200 kPa. There is a vapour withdrawal line at the top of the VIE, from which oxygen vapour can go via a restrictor to a superheater, where the gas is heated towards ambient temperature. Where demand exceeds supply from this route, there is also a liquid withdrawal line from the bottom of the VIE, from which liquid oxygen can be withdrawn; the liquid can be made to join the vapour line downstream of the restrictor and pass either through the superheater or back to the top of the VIE. The liquid can also be made to pass through an evaporator before joining the vapour line. After passing through the superheater, the oxygen vapour is passed through a series of pressure regulators to drop the pressure down to the distribution pipeline pressure of 410 kPa. It should be remembered that no insulation is perfect and there is a pressure relief valve on top of the VIE in case lack of demand and gradual temperature rise results in a pressure build up in the container. There is a filling port and there is usually considerable wastage in filling the VIE; the delivery hose needs to be cooled to below the critical temperature, using the tanker liquid oxygen itself to cool the delivery pipe. The whole VIE device is mounted on a hinged weighing scale and is situated outside the hospital building, protected by a caged enclosure, which also houses two banks of reserve cylinders.

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