Knocking out the hidden emitter
As countries look to reduce their carbon footprint, one of the industries low on the list to see revolution will be health.
Now, it might not be the best idea to criticise the health service as we emerge from a global pandemic, but hospitals are a hidden contributor to greenhouse emissions pumping nitrous oxide, cyclopropane and xenon, commonly known as anaesthetic gases, into the atmosphere.
The good news is there is an answer. SageTech Medical Equipment has paved the way for a drastic reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from the medical industry following a £2.9m pre-series A investment into the business.
SageTech’s flexible, low-capex, modular system allows hospitals to capture waste anaesthetic gas exhaled by patients in absorbent, reusable canisters within the operating theatre. These canisters are emptied, the gas stored in bulk tanks and then collected by SageTech. The firm is currently developing technology which will allow this gas to be recycled, purified and sold commercially.
It surprised me when I came across this story but wasted anaesthetic gases are a substantial and broadly unaddressed cause of air pollution. Currently anaesthetic gas used by hospitals is captured by centralised systems, and released into the atmosphere. More than 95% of all the anaesthetic gas used is disposed of into the atmosphere meaning that anaesthetic gas used by a midsized hospital has the same environmental impact as 1,200 cars each year with the NHS producing 5.4% of all the greenhouse gases in the UK.
The technology allows hospitals to use anaesthetic gas in areas that do not have access to fixed Anaesthetic Gas Scavenging Systems, the current solution used by hospitals to collect these gases. These systems are built into a hospital’s infrastructure when it is constructed, meaning that hospitals have not been able to expand operating theatre and intensive care capacity easily during the Covid-19 pandemic. SageTech systems can allow for ‘temporary’ operating theatres to be used.
As mentioned before, SageTech are currently developing the technology to recycle the 95% of gasses used in operating theatres, with the pre-series A round is part of a fundraising strategy to complete pilots that are currently underway within UK hospitals and to scale up commercial operations to meet demonstrated global demand for their technology platform.
The funding will also be used to further develop and secure market authorisation for SageTech’s recycled anaesthetic product.
Naturally this will reduce emissions but it strikes me that the capture and recycling of other wasted products may well be a source for more progress in the fight against climate change.