TechConnect Innovator Spotlight:

TechConnect World Innovation Conference
May 14 - 17, 2017, Washington DC

Polymers for the capture of volatile anaesthetics, University of Melbourne


Synthetic polymers capable of capture, storage and release of volatile anaesthetics such as desfluorane and sevofluorane.

Primary Application Area: Medical Devices

Technology Development Status: Prototype



Volatile compounds such as nitrous oxide (N2O) and fluorinated ethers including isoflurane (I) are extensively used in medicine as inhalation anaesthetics. Release of these compounds into enclosed spaces such as operating theatres or the external environment arises because only a minor proportion (if any) of inhaled anaesthetics are metabolised by the body and thus the anaesthetic is liberated upon exhalation by the patient. The release of the gases/vapours that are in common use poses a significant environmental problem because, in general, they are extremely potent greenhouse gases. In addition to the problems related to the impact on the wider environment, both short term and long term exposure to the compounds can adversely affect the health of those who work in the immediate environment where inhalation anaesthetics are in use.Metal organic frameworks have been developed that are able to absorb, store and release common volatile anesthetic gases. The materials have been shown to uptake significant quantities of the anaesthetics: N2O, isoflurane, sevoflurane, and xenon.



Value Proposition: The new material developed allows for the recycling of anaethetics gases as the material not only absorbs and stores the volatile gases but can release. This is a step forward from the commonly used activated carbon which is disposed off after use. The material may make expensive but desirable gases such as Xenon a more commercially viable anaesthetic gas, with recycling.
The material also improves the carbon footprint of operating theatres, as choosing sevoflurane in lieu of desflurane as their standard gas at work (for a 40 hour week) could reduce an anesthetist's carbon footprint by a return flight from Melbourne to London fortnightly.



National Innovation Awardee

Organization Type: Academic/Gov Lab