The battery-driven compressor can achieve temperatures down to -86°C for off-grid distribution of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines.
COVID-19 vaccine being given in Rwanda. Photo by Davyimage/Wikimedia Commons
German compressor manufacturer Secop has launched an ethane (R170) compressor for ultra-low temperature applications like mRNA COVID-19 vaccine storage.
The MP2UVULTM R170 compressor is capable of delivering temperatures down to -70°C to -86°C (-94°F to -122.8°F). It's battery driven, meaning that it is well suited for mobile systems and off-grid locations, where it until now has been difficult to guarantee very low storage temperatures, such as the -70°C that Pfizer’s mRNA COVID-19 vaccine requires.
“This system is optimized for the last mile of distribution for the new generations of vaccines and offers mobile operation even in high ambient conditions such as in tropical regions,” Secop stated on its website.
For the ultra-low-temperature application, Secop recommends that the R170 compressor be used in the low-temperature stage of a two-stage cascade system.
“The most reliable solution is to build two-stage systems, where first stage normally uses propane [R290] to reach about -35°C (-31°F), and then the second stage normally is a mixed refrigerant (the major one is R170, with some small amounts of propane/R290 or isobutane/R600a), which drives the temperature further down to below -60°C (-76°F) or more,” said Li Yuan, Global BD & Marketing for Secop.
The compressor has a variable-speed drive, with speeds from 2,500 to 4,400RPM, and is equipped with Secop’s Cool Capacity Drive controller. At 4,400RPM and delivering -80°C, the compressor has a cooling capacity of 95W (0.027TR) and a COP of 2.01. At 2,500RPM and the same temperature, the figures are 54W (0.015TR) and 2.03.
Secop’s compressors and electronic control solutions were officially certified by the World Health Organization (WHO) for the roll out of COVID vaccines at the beginning of the year.
An ultra-cold-temperature storage system from Stirling Ultracold uses R170 refrigerant but not in a traditional vapor compression system. Instead, it employs a “free-piston Stirling engine” design.
Mirai Intex is marketing an ultra-low-temperature (ULT) air-cycle system that can handle the Pfizer vaccine.
“This system is optimized for the last mile of distribution for the new generations of vaccines and offers mobile operation even in high ambient conditions such as in tropical regions," - Secop
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