Technology developed in Waterloo Region protects environment by capturing hospital anesthetic gases
Waterloo Region - New patented technology developed in Waterloo Region will help battle climate change by capturing anesthetic gases that cause global warming.
Grand River Hospital (GRH) has formally activated its halogenated drug recovery (HDR) system, developed by Class 1 Inc. of Cambridge. The technology captures waste anesthetic gases exhaled by patients undergoing surgery. The gases are liquefied and stored for future re-processing.
GRH’s KW Campus has been the pilot site for Class 1’s system. Exhaled air from surgical patients is now diverted into specialized equipment in a mechanical room. The anesthetic gases are captured and stored in canisters rather than being released into the environment. The canisters are replaced regularly.
“Just a single 240 mL bottle of anesthetic gas released into the atmosphere is the equivalent of 1.4 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions. Our system safely captures and stores these gases without releasing them into the environment,” said Barry Hunt, president and CEO of Class 1 Inc.
“Our operating rooms support 7,600 surgical cases with general anesthetic every year, and use 854 bottles of anesthetic gases. Class 1’s HDR system will reduce our carbon footprint by more than a thousand tonnes a year,” said Malcolm Maxwell, GRH president and CEO. “HDR is among several technologies we’re using to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at GRH. Automating our building heating systems has reduced energy use and related emissions while saving funds that we can redirect to patient care services.”
Class 1 Inc. worked closely with the University of Waterloo’s chemical engineering department to develop the system over the past seven years. The company is now bringing the technology to market, and has installations planned in more than a dozen hospitals across North America.
“This is an ideal research partnership with Class 1 Inc., that really makes an environmental difference, and with Grand River Hospital who allowed us to prove the process,” said Bill Anderson, professor of chemical engineering, University of Waterloo. “Midsize hospitals can emit the carbon equivalent of up to 1,200 automobiles annually. HDR will eliminate that.”
Class 1 received support to develop HDR through:
• Financial contributions and advisory services from the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC-IRAP)
• A grant from Natural Science and Engineering Research Council (NSERC); and
• The Ontario Centres of Excellence’s Voucher for Innovation and Productivity (VIP).
The system’s estimated price is $300 per operating room per month.
"This is yet another great example of the region’s technological creativity, driven by innovative and entrepreneurial partnerships of local industry, academic and community institutions. Green and clean industry is a wellspring of future economic growth. I’m especially pleased that financial support from the Industrial Research Assistance Program of the federal government’s National Research Council was able to assist in the development of this technology,” said Marwan Tabbara, MP Kitchener South--Hespeler.
“I am so pleased with the collaborative efforts in our community among Grand River Hospital, Class 1 Inc, and the University of Waterloo which have yielded such innovative technology. This has the potential to profoundly reduce anesthetic emissions harmful to the environment, not only in Waterloo Region, but globally,” said Daiene Vernile, MPP Kitchener Centre
“Ontario Centres of Excellence has proudly supported this project through two grants. It was also a finalist for our Mind to Market award this year because of the way it highlighted the collaboration between industry and academia. The partners have come together to develop a game-changing solution that will help reduce emissions that are potentially harmful to the environment,” said Dr. Tom Corr, president and CEO, Ontario Centres of Excellence.
Additional technology to process captured anesthetics is now under development by Class 1, with the intention to recycle the waste anesthetics in the future.