Bitterfeld-Wolfen, Germany – Cryo-technology specialist Mecotec has developed a hybrid container system that will allow coronavirus vaccines to be transported, stored and distributed at very low temperatures. Polyurethane foam insulation is a key component of its construction.
Some of the vaccines being developed to prevent coronavirus infection will require ultra-cold chain distribution at below –75°C. The Meconic 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 centre, with no requirement for topping up with a cryogenic agent such as dry ice. This means it can be airfreighted as well as sent via sea cargo.
It has an internal storage capacity of 13m3. Also inside the container is a 2.7m3 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 centre, 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 centre.
‘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.