Mecotec Hybrid Container Solution

German company reveals ‘one-stop solution’ for vaccine distribution

Nov. 16, 2020
MECOTEC’s Mobile Hybrid Container prototype keeps up to 1 million vials at freezing temperatures during transport, storage

German cryogenics firm MECOTEC Group recently launched its first Mobile Hybrid Container, which it calls a “one-stop solution” for the deep freeze, transport, storage and distribution of vaccines.

Immediately after production, the vaccine—potentially one of the recently announced COVID-19 vaccines currently under development by Pfizer and Moderna—is frozen in a deep cold storage, loaded into the container and transported safely to a distribution center at constant temperatures down to -80°C/112°F, the company said.

On site, the transport container functions as a storage and distribution center. It is supplied via a three-phase power connection with 400 volts. 

“Our many years of experience in the field of cooling technology made it possible within a very short timeframe to develop the transport, storage and distribution container,” said Jan Hüneburg, managing director of COOLANT, the industrial division of MECOTEC.

Ensuring vaccines remain at ultra-low temperatures to retain their effectiveness is a major challenge for vaccine manufacturers, transporters and storage providers in the fight against the coronavirus, MECOTEC maintained. In addition, very few medical facilities have space to store vaccines in large quantities at constant minimum temperatures.

MECOTEC says it already developed the mobile cold store solution as a prototype with which the vaccine can be frozen directly at the manufacturer’s facility. For this purpose, the cold store system is located near production, and the machine container is set up outside the production building. Immediately after production, the vaccine is deeply frozen in the cold store, which can be set up anywhere where the vaccine is available for deep cooling.

“We are pleased that we can present our Mobile Hybrid Container solution for the transport and storage of COVID-19 vaccines and thus make a contribution to a safe and fast supply of the vaccine for people worldwide,“ said Enrico Klauer, managing director of the MECOTEC Group. “Since our system is based on an active deep-freezing technology, it does not require dry ice for cooling, which makes it also suitable for safe international air transport.”

According to MECOTEC, the process for transporting and storing a vaccine at constant minimum temperatures down to -80°C includes loading vaccine vials into the mobile refrigerated container in transport packaging and insulation boxes, which then are transported to the distribution (vaccination) center while maintaining deep-freezing temperatures. At the distribution center, the vials can be taken out in small or large quantities. The whole process, including the location and temperature within the container, can be monitored centrally.

The container has a deep-freeze volume of approximately 459 cubic feet, the company said, which, depending on the type of packaging and load, allows for the transport and storage of up to 1 million vaccination doses.

The technology required for this deep-freeze transportation and storage is installed in a 29-square foot compartment directly behind the storage area. An electrically operated chiller boasts two redundant cold generators, ensuring the room stays cool. During transport, the power is supplied by two built-in generator sets. As an additional security measure, the vaccine is stored in transport packaging with cooling batteries and/or dry ice bags. At the vaccination center, the container can be set up stationary on site and supplied with power via a three-phase power connection with 400V without having to repackage the vaccination vials.

Thanks to this independent power supply and redundancy, an availability of almost 100% of the cooling is achieved MECOTEC claimed. Remote monitoring, GPS location and complete temperature recording with an alarm system allow permanent location and monitoring of the container. Since the container is a standard size, it can be transported with any conventional container transport vehicle without a special permit.

“It is our aim to get the vaccine to the people as soon as possible,” Klauer said. “Therefore we offer several options: Orders for container production can be placed at MECOTEC directly and at our worldwide sales offices. In addition we also offer licensed production.”

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