BACKGROUND: The inhalation anesthetics are potent greenhouse gases. To reduce the global environmental impact of the health care sector, technologies are sought to limit the release of waste anesthetic gas into the atmosphere.
METHODS: Using a photochemical exhaust gas destruction system, removal efficiencies for nitrous oxide, desflurane, and sevoflurane were measured at various inlet concentrations (25% and 50%; 1.5%, 3.0%, and 6.0%; and 0.5%, 1.0%, and 2.0%, respectively) with flow rates ranging from 0.25 to 2.0 L/min. To evaluate the economic competitiveness of the anesthetic waste gas destruction system, its price per ton of carbon dioxide equivalent was calculated and compared to other greenhouse gas abatement technologies and current market prices.
RESULTS: All inhaled anesthetics evaluated demonstrate enhanced removal efficiencies with decreasing flow rates (P < .0001). Depending on the anesthetic and its concentration, the photochemical exhaust gas destruction system exhibits a constant first-order removal rate, k. However, there was not a simple relation between the removal rate k and the species concentration. The costs for removing a ton of carbon dioxide equivalents are <$0.005 for desflurane, <$0.114 for sevoflurane, and <$49 for nitrous oxide.
CONCLUSIONS: Based on this prototype study, destroying sevoflurane and desflurane with this photochemical anesthetic waste gas destruction system design is efficient and cost-effective. This is likely also true for other halogenated inhalational anesthetics such as isoflurane. Due to differing chemistry of nitrous oxide, modifications of this prototype photochemical reactor system are necessary to improve its removal efficiency for this gas.