Cyclopropane Cylinder; Commonwealth Industrial Gases Ltd. (CIG); c. 1950; 2018.9


Harry Daly Museum


Cyclopropane Cylinder

About this object

Cyclopropane was originally thought to be the toxic compound within propylene
from which it was isolated by George Lucas in 1927, working with Professor V. Henderson and W.E. Brown in Toronto, Canada. It was, however, the anaesthetic.

‘Cyclo’ was first used clinically by Ralph Waters in Wisconsin in 1930 and was introduced in Australia by Gilbert Troup in 1935. It had numerous benefits over ether, chloroform and nitrous oxide and so became the favoured agent of many

Cyclopropane was used with a high percentage of oxygen, which was of
advantage to patients. Its high cost was a blessing in disguise by helping to lead to the introduction by Ralph Waters of ‘controlled’ (by inducing hypocapnia) respiration in anaesthesia and the gas could be used in a closed circuit with little wastage. Its disadvantage was its flammability - an issue that could (and did on occasions) prove lethal to both patients and theatre staff.
Cyclopropane and others were replaced by Halothane in the 1950s.

Dr Ray Cook recollects,

"Cyclopropane was still used routinely for induction by one cardiac anaesthetist in Coventry in 1974 when I was there so I got to use it.
I had to get it taken off the machines in a 200 bed country hospital in Victoria in 1977 recommending it be removed also from the hospital stores because of its explosive nature.

The anti-static protection in the theatres of those days included mercury switches to prevent arcing – amazing devices that we had to learn about."
(R. Cook, 8 March 2018)


Commonwealth Industrial Gases Ltd. (CIG)

Date Made

c. 1950

Medium and Materials

Empty of gas

Credit Line

Courtesy of Richard Morris

Object Type


Object number


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