While other companies are testing solar thermal technology on a utility scale, healthcare services company DaVita has found a different way to benefit: using the sun’s energy to provide power for kidney dialysis.
The Denver-based company began testing a solar-thermal-powered dialysis clinic at its facility in Scottsburg, Indiana, in 2010. It’s since analyzed the results, and has found the renewable technology helped cut its natural gas consumption by 75 percent, compared to comparable clinics in the area.
During dialysis, which removes waste from the blood of patients with kidney trouble, water must be heated to human body temperatures before being filtered. Aiming to reduce its fossil fuel consumption, DaVita installed solar thermal panels on the roof of its Scottsburg clinic to use sun energy to warm up water for dialysis treatment.
“We’re very encouraged by the initial results from this trial,” said Kent Thiry, chairman and CEO of DaVita.
The company plans to continue evaluating the solar thermal system’s performance for the remainder of the year. If it’s happy with the final results, it hopes to expand the use of the technology at more facilities across the country.
DaVita is also testing other energy reduction technologies, including a water turbine in San Francisco. The company also opened the first LEED-certified dialysis facility in the US, as well as the country’s first dialyzer recycling pilot.