When a vaccine for COVID-19 is ready for wider use, suppliers and health care providers will likely be turning to specialized container makers making systems that ensure vaccines can be transported, stored and distributed at very low temperatures. Germany's Mecotec GmbH says it has the first hybrid container system that will meet those requirements, a container that relies of polyurethane foam insulation.
Some of the vaccines being developed to prevent COVID-19 will require storage at –75°C, far colder than typical commercial storage systems. Meconic says its container will allow up to a million doses to be frozen at the production site. The standard-sized container can then be shipped, and used for storage at the final distribution center, with no requirement for topping up with a cryogenic agent such as dry ice. This means it can be shipped via air freight or through cargo ships.
The Mecotec container has an internal storage capacity of 13 cubic meters Also inside the container is a 2.7-cubic-meter technical room housing two electrically operated chillers, with power supplied by two built-in generator sets. This duplication is a failsafe measure.
To help maintain the ultra-low temperature, the container is insulated with rigid PU foam panels made from BASF’s Elastopor H 1242/30-B. It is equipped with remote monitoring, GPS tracking, temperature monitoring and an alarm system.
Once the container reaches the vaccination center, it can be connected to mains power, with the vaccine remaining inside. The vials of vaccine can then be taken out in small or large quantities at the distribution center.
"The project knowledge that we have gained with the development of the prototype as well as our many years of experience in the field of cooling technology made it possible within a very short time to adapt this deep-freeze facility into a transport, storage and distribution container,’ said Jan Hueneburg, managing director of Coolant, Mecotec’s industrial division. Mecotec is based in Bitterfeld-Wolfen, Germany.