As a lifesaving treatment for COVID-19 patients, the demand for oxygen and oxygen concentrators is at an all-time high. But even after a year since the pandemic hit, there is still a strain on the oxygen and medical oxygen supplies hospitals need.
With this increased need for oxygen delivery, hospitals found that converting liquid oxygen to gas at such high rates jeopardized their current oxygen supply systems. As a result, hospitals have relied on cylinders instead of bulk to supply patients with oxygen.
Not only has the need for more cylinders stressed gas suppliers’ ability to deliver the amount and frequency hospitals need, but it also exposed weaknesses with hospital piping and equipment that was never built to meet this new level of demand. Even though there’s plenty of oxygen available, the increased need for oxygen cylinders created a nationwide shortage that continues to persist in hospitals and clinics today.
Helium on the Rise
Fewer birthday parties, fewer balloons, and more helium. A likely explanation for the current surplus of helium due to COVID-19, but it’s not the only one.
In fact, helium used for party balloons only represents 10% of the market. As the world’s leading helium supplier, the U.S. experienced the largest upswing in helium from the decrease in industrial demand during COVID-19 stay-at-home orders. So much so, the national ration for helium supply was finally lifted after four years.
Helium supplies for laboratories are also growing. More universities have made the switch to liquifiers to reduce the amount of wholesale helium they need to buy. Liquifiers recycle helium that boils off from laboratory instruments. Although initially pricey, these new machines help laboratories purchase helium in gaseous form, instead of liquid helium, which cuts costs significantly.
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