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Aluminum scuba cylinders in oxygen-enriched and oxygen service – I’d like to blend my own EAN mixtures. Is it all right for me to use Luxfer scuba cylinders for partial-pressure nitrox blending?

In all matters relating to gas-handling, blending and filling, Luxfer defers to CGA, of which Luxfer is a member. Partial-pressure blending with oxygen should be done only by those properly trained to do so safely by a recognized, responsible agency that strictly follows CGA guidelines. Most accidents related to partial-pressure blending have involved people who have not been properly trained.


Carbon composite cylinders for medical oxygen – will I need special handling equipment to protect the cylinder?

Luxfer’s carbon composite cylinders do not need any special handling equipment—in fact, they are the strongest, most durable cylinders ever made. Around the world, carbon composite cylinders are used daily in one of the most demanding, abusive environments imaginable—providing breathing air for firefighters while they battle blazing infernos. You’ll find care and maintenance for Luxfer carbon composite cylinders neither time-consuming nor expensive. For more information, call Luxfer toll-free at 800-764-0366.


Carbon composite cylinders for medical oxygen – what types of valves and regulators does a Luxfer carbon composite cylinder require?

Luxfer’s medical composite cylinders take standard valves and regulators. Please note that the 3,000-psi service pressure rating will require the valve to have the appropriate pressure release device, which is already available as a standard product from valve manufacturers. Luxfer will ensure that you get the proper valve with your cylinder when you place your order.


Carbon composite cylinders for medical oxygen – how do Luxfer carbon composite cylinders compare with liquid oxygen (LOX) systems?

Luxfer carbon composite cylinders are a profitable, cost-effective alternative to more expensive LOX systems because Luxfer composite cylinders allow you to leverage your existing filling and delivery equipment. Unlike LOX, composite cylinders do not require major investments in equipment and infrastructure. Moreover, since carbon composite cylinders cost less initially than LOX systems, you will recoup your initial investment and start getting your payback in far less time.

Carbon composite cylinders also offer significant advantages to oxygen users compared to LOX systems:

  • LOX systems constantly vent whether being used or not. Carbon composite cylinders do not vent, and their contents can be stored until needed.
  • Although some LOX systems are safer than others, hazardous liquid oxygen spills are always a possibility. Some units cannot be tilted 90 degrees or more without spilling-which can cause severe skin burns and increase the risk of dangerous oxygen-fed fires. Also, LOX transfilling can be difficult-especially for users with reduced hand dexterity-and potentially hazardous because of possible skin burns from touching liquid oxygen residue on connections. No such dangers exist with carbon composite cylinders.
  • LOX requires expensive storage and delivery equipment, and because of special handling requirements, each home visit involving LOX is more time-consuming than visits to drop off and pick up cylinders. Carbon composite cylinders require no additional investment and allow you to use your current filling and delivery equipment.
  • Some LOX portable units operate only with conserving devices, making them unsuitable for patients who require continuous oxygen flow. Carbon composite cylinders can be used with or without conserving devices, offering a continuous flow option for users who need it.
  • LOX has one unit with no backup in case of equipment malfunction or other type of failure. (Some cautious oxygen users have actually reported purchasing more than one LOX unit in case one unit should fail.) With carbon composite cylinders, multiple cylinders provide continuous backup, and composite cylinders can also be used in conjunction with standard aluminum cylinders, allowing you to provide the most appropriate, cost-effective product mix depending on each user’s needs.
  • Portable LOX systems are not allowed on airplanes for passenger use because of safety concerns. Composite cylinders can be used during air travel-in fact, because they are so easy to transport and handle, they are an ideal choice for all types of travel.

In short, Luxfer carbon composite medical cylinders offer the compact size, lightness of weight, portability and lifestyle enhancements offered by LOX systems-but without the significant financial and safety drawbacks.


Carbon composite cylinders for medical oxygen – what advantages do Luxfer carbon composite cylinders offer a homecare company?

Getting your company involved with composite cylinder technology in the early stages will give you the opportunity to differentiate your company from your competitors and take advantage of growing referrals from medical prescribers in your area. This new technology will set you apart as an innovative, future-oriented company, helping you not only to retain existing customers but also to attract new ones as Luxfer’s advertising and other promotional activities build awareness and preference for carbon composite cylinders.

Most of all, you will be providing the most advanced cylinder technology that will truly improve the quality of life for oxygen users you serve. Composite cylinders provide the following major clinical benefits for users:

  • Significantly lighter weight improves ambulation and mobility and helps oxygen users lead more active lives, which physicians regard as therapeutically important.
  • More oxygen per cylinder increases the duration of ambulation and enables oxygen users to exercise more and to participate more actively in longer-term activities with fewer cylinders.
  • In short, because of their lighter weight, more compact size and longer-lasting oxygen supply, Luxfer composite cylinders give oxygen users greater freedom and help them get more out of life.

Because Luxfer carbon composite cylinders hold more oxygen in a much smaller package than comparable steel or aluminum cylinders, composite cylinders will significantly decrease your delivery costs by leaving more oxygen with the user with each trip-that means fewer visits and less transportation cost. Composite cylinders are about half the weight of comparably sized aluminum cylinders, but composites offer significantly more oxygen capacity because they can be filled to 3,000 psi. For example, an M09B composite cylinder is the same size package as an M6 aluminum cylinder, but the composite cylinder can hold 50% more oxygen.

Luxfer composite cylinders are a cost-effective, profitable alternative to expensive liquid-oxygen (LOX) systems. Composite cylinders offer all the clinical advantages of LOX without the significant financial and safety drawbacks. (See the next question for a more detailed discussion of this point.)

Luxfer composite cylinders also offer you an outstanding opportunity for retail sales. If you had family members who needed oxygen, wouldn’t you be willing to invest in the best equipment to improve the quality of their lives? Research has shown conclusively that many people pay more for products that enhance their lifestyle. This is particularly true of the aging “baby boom” population in the U.S, the largest and most affluent generation in American history-and also the most brand-conscious and technology-focused. This huge population segment begins turning 60 in 2006, and demographic experts are predicting that they will have a major impact on retail sales of medical devices of all types, including oxygen delivery systems. The “boomers” will demand the real advantages provided by Luxfer carbon composite cylinders.


Carbon composite cylinders for medical oxygen – why is Luxfer offering carbon composite cylinder technology for medical oxygen?

Carbon composite cylinder technology provides significant clinical benefits to patients, especially those who are ambulatory. Physicians often encourage ambulation for oxygen patients, and cylinder weight is an important factor in a patient’s ability to remain active. Luxfer carbon composite cylinders are the lightest-weight portable oxygen cylinders available in the market today, which makes them an ideal choice for ambulatory patients.

Luxfer composite cylinder technology has been widely used for home oxygen therapy in Japan for more than 15 years and in Europe for nearly a decade—and in both these demanding markets, use of composite cylinders continues to grow for medical oxygen, as well as other applications.

The U.S. is now emerging as the next major market for medical composite cylinder technology. More than a half-million Luxfer composite cylinders are already in use in the U.S. as part of self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) life-support systems for firefighters, and use of composites for emergency medical services (EMS) is on the rise. This proven Luxfer cylinder technology is ideal for home medical use as well, and Luxfer is now making it available for homecare providers and medical institutions.

Luxfer is the world’s largest manufacturer of aluminum and composite cylinders with four manufacturing facilities in the U.S., as well as plants in England, France and Australia.


Aluminum scuba cylinders in oxygen-enriched and oxygen service – do fires occur frequently with aluminum oxygen cylinders in general?

Absolutely not. Oxygen-related fires are extremely rare events, which is a testimony not only to the safety and suitability of aluminum cylinders for oxygen service, but also to proper cleanliness, care and maintenance. Aluminum cylinders have been used in oxygen service for more than 35 years, and more than 20 million cylinders have been produced for such service in North America alone. However, because oxygen-related fires happen infrequently, people can become lax about oxygen safety—which is the greatest danger of all.


Aluminum scuba cylinders in oxygen-enriched and oxygen service – I’ve heard about fires and explosions occurring in tanks that were supposedly cleaned for oxygen. How could that happen?

There are two main possibilities. First, the cylinder might well have been properly cleaned and tested, but subsequently became contaminated in a way that was not detected before the fire occurred. Sometimes other elements of the oxygen filling or containment system become contaminated, and they, in turn, contaminate the cylinder; sometimes a valve is improperly installed into the cylinder or an improper lubricant is used; sometimes contamination occurs during use—the possibilities are numerous. Or, second, the cylinder was not cleaned and tested properly in the first place, and a contaminant was still present to serve as fuel for the fire. One thing is certain: An oxygen-fed fire cannot start without oxygen, an ignition source and a contaminant—so contamination must have been present.


Aluminum scuba cylinders in oxygen-enriched and oxygen service – what happens to an aluminum scuba tank in an oxygen-fed fire?

  • First, an ignition source of some sort—a flame or spark, excessive or prolonged heat, impact, etc.—ignites a contaminant, which serves as the initial fuel for the fire. Please remember: many materials that might not ignite and burn in standard air under normal atmospheric pressure will ignite and burn, often furiously, in a high-pressure, oxygen-rich environment.
  • The initial fire begins melting the metal of the cylinder and/or the scuba valve, at which point the molten metal itself becomes fuel and starts to burn. The melt temperature for aluminum is 1,220 degrees F (660 degrees C), which gives you some idea of how hot an oxygen-fed fire can become—and it usually reaches these elevated temperatures in less than one second. All the time that the metal is burning, oxygen is being consumed and the fire is intensifying.
  • The action of the fire rapidly increases the pressure inside the cylinder, and all the while more and more aluminum is melting and starting to burn, fueling the fire and weakening the cylinder to the point that it can no longer hold the growing pressure. All this occurs so quickly that the pressure-relief device on the valve does not have time to activate.
  • By the time the pressure-relief device is ready to activate, either the valve is forcefully ejected at high velocity or the cylinder ruptures—or both.
  • Afterwards, it is very difficult, if not impossible, to determine the nature of the original contaminant, because the contaminant has been completely consumed or driven off by the extremely hot fire. At that point, a thorough examination of the total oxygen system, cleanliness records, cleaning methods, system use, care and maintenance records, filling procedures and other relevant data may reveal possible sources of contamination.


Aluminum scuba cylinders in oxygen-enriched and oxygen service – can dropping or striking a scuba tank containing pressurized oxygen start a fire?

If a contaminant (fuel) is present and the oxygen inside a cylinder is under sufficient pressure, impact from a fall or blow can indeed be the ignition source for an oxygen-fed fire. Although ignition of this type occurs very rarely, it’s still a good idea to handle a pressurized cylinder with care at all times. Always follow all applicable DOT guidelines when transporting cylinders. Secure cylinders when transporting them so that they will not roll around, rattle about or strike other cargo or hard surfaces. Protect cylinders from falling and impact by using chain restraints, padding, straps and dollies during transportation and use. Also, always exercise great caution when hand-carrying all pressurized scuba cylinders, especially those containing oxygen or oxygen-enriched mixtures.


Carbon composite cylinders for medical oxygen – how often must carbon composite cylinders be retested?

Luxfer’s carbon composite cylinders must be retested (i.e., requalified for continued service) every five years, the same as aluminum oxygen cylinders. In fact, Luxfer was the first company to receive a full five-year requalification exemption for its carbon composite cylinders from the U.S. Department of Transportation. (Some competitive composite cylinders must be requalified every three years.)


Aluminum scuba cylinders in oxygen-enriched and oxygen service – it’s really important that I have enough pure oxygen in my decompression cylinder when I need to use it after a deep dive. Is it okay to put extra oxygen in my cylinder to make sure that I don’t run out?

DOT regulations (see CFR 49) strictly prohibit over-pressurizing a scuba cylinder containing any kind of gas, but it is particularly dangerous to do so with high oxygen concentrations. The reason is: The higher the pressure and the higher the oxygen concentration, the higher the risk of a fire and explosion if a contaminant is present.

Luxfer has received numerous and persistent reports that technicians in certain sectors of the recreational diving community routinely over-pressurize scuba cylinders, including cylinders containing high concentrations of oxygen. This is sometimes described as “doing divers a favor,” offering “a little more down time” or “giving divers their money’s worth.” Not only is this an unsafe practice, it is against the law! Under no circumstances should you allow the gas pressure in your scuba cylinder to exceed the service pressure for which the cylinder is designed and stamped or marked. If a filler offers to over-pressurize your cylinder, you should not only refuse the offer, you should report the filler to the DOT. If you suspect that your cylinder has been over-pressurized, you should have it depressurized and have it inspected by a competent technician to determine whether it is fit for further service.

For pure oxygen, DOT mandates strict pressure limits: Gas pressure in an aluminum cylinder containing pure oxygen must never exceed 3,000 psi (even if the cylinder is stamped for a pressure above 3,000 psi).

If you are concerned about running out of oxygen, use a larger decompression cylinder filled to the proper service pressure—or carry more cylinders.