The Nitrous Oxide Project

As part of our commitment to the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act (2015) and to helping the Welsh Government reach their target of net zero carbon emissions within the public sector by 2030, we are working on many different projects and initiatives to deliver more sustainable healthcare. 

One of these projects is the ‘Nitrous Oxide Project’.  The Nitrous Oxide Project aims to reduce our environmental and financial impact by suppling anaesthetic nitrous oxide gas to our wards by portable cylinders instead of the older piped systems. 

The Nitrous Oxide Project will save around 1 million litres of nitrous oxide per year, which is the equivalent to 535 tonnes of CO2.  Our aim is to spread this project across Wales and achieve a culture shift away from N2O use. 

The NHS Wales Decarbonisation Strategic Delivery Plan outlines the need to raise awareness of the carbon impact of medical gases in the hope of transitioning to a culture where gases with low global warming potentials are prioritised.  The plan also highlights the importance of exploring methods of minimising gas wastage and technologies to capture expelled medical gases. 

Following a successful pilot at the Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospital for Wales, we are rolling out the use of small nitrous oxide cylinders.  This has proven to have an efficiency of 74%, which is much more efficient than the previous supply.  There are huge gains to be made from moving over to a portable cylinder supply.

At the University Hospital Llandough we have installed portable nitrous oxide cylinders on trolleys, one will be available per clinical theatre area.  As a result of this we are decommissioning the nitrous oxide manifold at UHL at the start of April.

Please note that the nitrous oxide manifold is to remain in place in Dental with no plan to change the delivery of nitrous oxide to this area.