Vaccine Freezers Powered Partially by Solar, Wind Power

For ultra-low temperature (ULT) storage and transportation, a new entry in the cold chain market can power freezers off the grid. In related news, ULT freezers were purchased for Puerto Rico and U.S. Embassy vaccines efforts.

A new company in the temperature-controlled sector has a unique offering that powers ultra-low temperature (ULT) freezers partially with solar and wind power.

With temperature control critical to the global vaccination effort, Kansas City-based Vaccine Pods was launched by a former firefighter to provide pharmaceutical companies, government organizations, and NGOs with systems to support cold chain logistics efforts.

The pod features retractable solar panels and a wind turbine. (PC: Vaccine Pods)The pod features retractable solar panels and a wind turbine. (PC: Vaccine Pods)

The power source

The company’s technology, developed in partnership with HCI Energy, is designed to boost capacity and power for ULT storage and transportation, allowing the user to ship a container with the vaccine in a freezer powered by the container’s integrated power source.

The pod, which measures approximately 20 ft long, is powered by batteries that can be recharged with solar power. Wind turbines and a generator serve as back-up power sources.

The power system leverages sustainable energy to minimize reliance on the electrical grid or fossil fuels, per the company, with the goal of enabling uninterrupted cold chain management and delivery of vaccines and future biologics anywhere in the world. This technology has been designed for use with Stirling Ultracold’s SU780XLE vaccine freezers.

Tracking and monitoring conditions are key in ensuring safe vaccines. The power system offers real-time data visibility including:

  • Temperatures of freezers located anywhere in the world
  • 24-hour monitoring of location
  • Security and remote access permissions
  • Solar array and deployment status with real-time weather tracking to deploy or retract the solar panels in the case of inclement weather
  • Power system performance and status
  • Fuel levels

Applications

One focus area for Vaccine Pods is to help power freezers in rural areas and developing countries that may lack access to modern cold chain storage and rely on corrugated boxes and dry ice.

A Stirling Ultracold freezer sits inside a Vaccine Pod. (PC: Vaccine Pods)A Stirling Ultracold freezer sits inside a Vaccine Pod. (PC: Vaccine Pods)

The World Health Organization reports that roughly 50% of all vaccines must be discarded worldwide each year due to improper handling and failed temperature control.

“With recent COVID vaccine approvals, the life sciences industry, in conjunction with government agencies and supply chain partners, is aiming to deliver 300 million doses in the U.S. alone in early 2021. Depending on the manufacturer, these vaccines must be kept temperatures between -20°C to -86°C at all times. This has created a new and significant challenge that existing ULT cold chain storage technology is not currently equipped to support,” said Edward Collins, CEO and founder of Vaccine Pods. “To help solve this public health crisis, we have engineered a cost-effective, energy-efficient technology that increases ULT cold chain storage capacity and power while working completely off the grid, enabling organizations to safely distribute more vaccines at reduced expense. Because of its cost savings and continual energy supply, this technology will not only help densely-populated localities, but also rural areas and developing countries that traditionally have not enjoyed the same access to these resources.”

“Vaccine Pods’ charging station technology is a gamechanger,” said Dusty Tenney, CEO at Stirling Ultracold. “It allows companies like Stirling Ultracold to ramp up capacity and accommodate growing energy requirements of our ULT freezers, guaranteeing that we can maintain vaccines at constant ultra-low temperatures until point of use. This is major step forward that will help supply chains meet the urgent need for COVID vaccines.” 


National Guard with Stirling Ultracold Freezer. For story, see sidebar, below. (PC: Business Wire)National Guard with Stirling Ultracold Freezer. For story, see sidebar, below. (PC: Business Wire)

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