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SDK Develops Waste Anesthetic Gases Disposal System

April 16, 2002

Showa Denko K.K. (SDK) has developed, in cooperation with the Kyushu University Hospital (director: Dr. Hajime Nawada), the world's first system for disposal of waste anesthetic gases at hospitals. A mixture of nitrous oxide and volatile anesthetic after use in general inhalation anesthesia is decomposed and treated 99.5% or more in the newly developed equipment "Anesclean" (trademark registration pending). The waste anesthetic gases are currently discharged into the air untreated.

Nitrous oxide (known as laughing gas) is a greenhouse gas with effect approximately 300 times that of carbon dioxide and is extremely stable in the atmosphere with half time of around 150 years. Although nitrous oxide's share of the total greenhouse gas emission in Japan is as low as 0.01%, the Japanese Government decided in its countermeasures against global warming as revised in March 2002 that nitrous oxide emission should be reduced by 0.5% from the 1990 level.

Practical methods have been developed for disposal of nitrous oxide for general applications, but it has been considered difficult to dispose of waste anesthetic gases. This is because waste anesthetic gases contain highly concentrated nitrous oxide (approx. 15% at the exhaust port) and, at the same time, contain volatile anesthetic.

The newly developed "Anesclean" is based on SDK's catalyst and system technologies as well as on guidance provided by Professor Shosuke Takahashi (Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine, Graduate School of Medical Sciences, Kyushu University), Dr. Tetsuya Kai (Vice-Director of Operating Rooms, Kyushu University Hospital) and Professor Yuichi Kanmura (Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Kagoshima University).

"Anesclean" enables decomposition and removal of nitrous oxide as well as adsorption and removal of volatile anesthetic, contributing to the protection of the global environment. Specifically, the new product has the following advantages:

  • 1. Decomposes nitrous oxide into nitrogen and oxygen (without generating NOx)
  • 2.Recovers volatile anesthetic using a special adsorbent
  • 3.Quickly responds to and disposes of waste anesthetic gases
  • 4.Being compact (occupying space of only 2 m2 for installation)

"Anesclean" will be manufactured by SDK and marketed by Showa Engineering Co., Ltd., a subsidiary of SDK. Sales are expected to reach 1 billion in five years' time.

SDK is the leading manufacturer of medical-grade nitrous oxide, having a 50% share of the Japanese market. By supplying the waste gas disposal system in addition to medical-grade nitrous oxide, SDK intends to give greater satisfaction to its customers.

In the medium-term consolidated business plan, SDK is committed to the personal care/environmental goods market, allocating much of its resources to the development of value-added specialty chemicals.

Kyushu University and SDK will make joint presentations on the development of "Anesclean" at the 49th general meeting of the Japan Anesthesiology Society, which starts on April 18 in Fukuoka City.