SageTech: Recycling Anaesthetic Gases to Reduce Pollution
SageTech Medical Equipment have developed a technology which captures and remanufactures volatile anaesthetic agents produced by surgery theatres. Patients in the operating theatre metabolise less than 5% of inhalational anaesthetic delivered. The rest is exhaled, unchanged, and extracted to the atmosphere.
The inhalational anaesthetic market is worth $1.2bn p.a. globally, and the market is growing at 3.5% CAGR. However, inhalational anaesthetics are potent greenhouse gases (HFCs) whose emissions are not currently enforced under environmental regulations such as the UN’s Montreal Protocol and the EU’s F-gas Regulations because they are essential for medical use. Globally, the environmental impact is 3 million tonnes of CO2e per annum.
SageTech has developed a laboratory demonstrated, patented process that captures, extracts and purifies inhalational anaesthetic agents to reduce the cost and environmental pollution of anaesthesia globally. This technology will increase access to the most recent anaesthetic agents, improving patient care and theatre efficiency.
Dr Sebastian Brown, the Research Director at SageTech initially accessed 3D Computer Aided Design software training at Fab Lab Plymouth via an ESF project; Strategic Employer Engagement in Devon. During this interaction a longer Impact Lab collaboration formed as Dr Brown understood the advanced manufacturing capabilities available at the FabLab, accessible via the Impact Lab.
Plymouth College of Art is home to Fab Lab Plymouth, a digital fabrication laboratory specialising in additive and subtractive manufacturing, along with digital design practice. SageTech and Fab Lab Plymouth have collaborated to develop a range of bespoke componentry for the extraction and chromatography machines, and their anaesthetic gas scavenging system. A collaborative design process led to a series of iterations of the components, culminating in final manufacture ready prototypes suited to the pilot phase of their operation. This process also allowed Sagetech to investigate the range of additive manufacturing processes currently available and determine the appropriate technology for their needs.
Working with the Impact Lab has enabled SageTech to substantially accelerate the design and development phase of their business. The FabLab has been able to achieve rapid turnaround from concept to prototype for aspects of SageTech’s equipment and also has been able to offer design solutions for specific technical needs. To support the development of this innovation, SageTech have recently built a production facility in Paignton to support the pilot scheme, and they also have accessed the Impact Lab’s SME match funded grant fund to protect their intellectual property via international patents.
Ben Mundy, the FabLab Manager and Impact Lab Knowledge Exchange Coordinator said that “working with SageTech has demonstrated that a facility such as the FabLab, based in an Arts environment can work very effectively with industries beyond its usual business partners in the creative industries, and that the processes available at the FabLab, via the Impact Lab are relevant to a wide range of sectors.'' He went on to explain that “collaborating with the other Impact Lab partners and businesses to address environmental issues is in alignment with the FabLabs development of a sustainable design and advanced manufacturing practice”.
- Dr Sebastian Brown, Research Director
- Matt Gopal, Head of Commercial & Veterinary
- Ben Mundy, Knowledge Exchange Coordinator, Plymouth College of Art
- Owen Groombridge, Researcher, Plymouth College of Art