Medical gas specialist Messer is working with Swedish research and development company Medclair to reduce the environmental impact of analgesic gases while also improving occupational safety for medical personnel.

As a joint project, the two companies aim for the solution to be offered wherever nitrous oxide (N2O) is used in the healthcare system, either in its pure form or as a 50:50 mix with oxygen. 

Although N2O is used for a range of treatments including anaesthesia, pain management, and sedation, it is also a harmful greenhouse gas. 

The partners are working to reduce this environmental impact through the implementation of two systems: the Central Destruction Unit (CDU) and the Mobile Destruction Unit (MBU). 

The CDU allows for simultaneous N2O treatment in multiple rooms, whereas the MDU enables occasional, more flexible treatment in multiple rooms. 

By separating the gas into its core components of nitrogen and oxygen, the systems can release the individual streams back into the surrounding air, reducing any damage to the environment. 

Commenting on the project, Adolf Walth, manager of extended management at Messer, said, “This partnership underscores our commitment to sustainability. We are helping to protect the environment not only by optimising our own processes, but also by developing technologies that make our customers’ processes more efficient and more eco-friendly.” 

By separating N2O, risk to medical personnel is also reduced. When exposed to heightened concentrations of N2O, workers can suffer from dizziness, unconsciousness, even death, which has set the precedent for exposure limits for atmospheric N2O to be introduced in almost all European countries. 

The use of a CDU or MDU reduces N2O concentration by more than 99%, further reducing risk to over-exposure.