Since the early 2000s, a number of companies have produced portable oxygen concentrators. Typically, these devices produce the equivalent of one to five liters per minute of continuous oxygen flow and they use some version of pulse flow or "demand flow" to deliver oxygen only when the patient is inhaling. They can also provide pulses of oxygen either to provide higher intermittent flows or to reduce the power consumption.
Research into oxygen concentration is ongoing and modern techniques suggest that the amount of adsorbent required by a medical oxygen concentrators can be potentially "reduced by a factor of three while offering ∼10–20% higher oxygen recovery compared to a typical commercial unit."
These portable concentrators typically plug into an electrical outlet and may have an internal battery or external battery pack for operation away from home. Portable oxygen concentrators usually can be plugged into the DC outlet of a vehicle, and most of these devices are suitable for ambulatory use.
The United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has approved the use of portable oxygen concentrators on commercial airlines.However, users of these devices should check in advance as to whether a particular brand or model is permitted on a particular airline.Unlike in commercial airlines, users of aircraft without cabin pressurization need oxygen concentrators which are able to deliver enough flowrate even at high altitudes, such as OXYFLY.
Usually, "demand" or pulse-flow oxygen concentrators are not used by patients while they sleep. There have been problems with the oxygen concentrators not being able to detect when the sleeping patient is inhaling. Some larger portable oxygen concentrators are designed to operate in continuous-flow mode in addition to pulse-flow mode. Continuous-flow mode is considered safe for night use when coupled with a CPAP machine.
Common models retail at around $600. Leasing arrangements may be available through various medical-supply companies and/or insurance agencies.