Sure Chill Company awarded $1.4 million to develop portable vaccine cooling box

21 May 2014

Welsh refrigeration firm The Sure Chill Company has been awarded US$1.4 million by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to develop an innovative long-life vaccine cooler for use in remote undeveloped places. The cooler will be able to operate for over 35 days without power.

The grant will enable The Sure Chill Company to move from proof-of-concept to field trials within the next year. “The funds will allow us to integrate the revolutionary Sure Chill technology into a vaccine cooler, which will mean more lives can be saved in remote locations,” explains Keith Bartlett, The Sure Chill Company’s Chief Executive Officer.

“Conventional refrigeration technologies can put vaccines at risk of either freezing or getting too warm. This reduces potency and means that immunisation programmes are not as effective as they could be. The Sure Chill Company’s technology ensures that vaccines reach children in optimum condition,” Bartlett continues. “This robust, pragmatic and user-friendly cooling solution has the potential to save the lives of countless children across the world.”

“The new vaccine coolers will be smaller than our existing vaccine refrigerators, making them ideal for small facilities in remote places. The devices will allow vaccines to be stored safely in challenging environments with no power and ambient temperatures as high as 43°C,” continued Ian Tansley, Chief Technical Officer and inventor, The Sure Chill Company.

The project will run for 15 months and see close collaboration with key partners, particularly in the field trials, which will be conducted in East and West Africa later in the year.

The latest funding follows $100,000 already awarded to develop a proof-of-concept version of the cooler, bringing the total awarded to The Sure Chill Company by the foundation to $1.5 million.

The Sure Chill Company’s revolutionary refrigeration technology enables perfect cooling for vaccines with no risk of freezing. The technology harnesses a unique property of water to create a constantly chilled environment within the unit.

The Sure Chill Company's vaccine cooler

The firm already has vaccine refrigerators operating in the field in over 30 countries and, this year has shipped 200 devices to the Philippines to help UNICEF in the wake of Super Typhoon Haiyan.

Based in Wales, The Sure Chill Company has recruited a team of specialists with experience of working in remote locations in Africa and Asia to support its research and development programme.

The technology is recognised by the World Health Organisation and endorsed by both Nobel Prize winner Sir John Houghton and Sir Richard Feachem, Director of the Global Health Group at UCSF Global Health Sciences. Feachem, who is also Professor of Global Health at both the University of California, San Francisco and University of California, Berkeley, commented “Sure Chill technology has the potential to have a major impact on child health worldwide.”

In addition to its work in the medical sector, The Sure Chill Company is establishing its revolutionary cooling technology in other areas, having received particular interest from the food and beverage and domestic sectors. Sure Chill technology offers unrivalled cooling capability; particularly where power suppliers are poor, intermittent or non-existent.

About the technology

Sure Chill technology is based on the scientific principle that water is at its heaviest at 4°C, which happens also to be the ideal temperature for storing vaccines, fresh food and beverages. The technology harnesses this natural phenomenon to create a constantly chilled environment within the refrigeration unit, whether there is power or not. It is so reliable that it will maintain a completely steady temperature for 10 days or more after power has been interrupted.

This is achieved through the movement of dense water at 4°C, generated as the system’s ice bank interacts with warmer water circulating within the unit. Once power has been used to generate the ice bank in the first instance, the Sure Chill technology channels the supply of naturally generated 4°C water to the refrigeration compartment without the need for any further power.

This process can continue until the ice bank, the ultimate generator of the dense water, finally melts and needs to be refrozen, which can take as little as two hours. In effect, the Sure Chill system creates a natural and internal energy store that is capable of providing a perfect, constantly chilled storage environment in areas where there is an intermittent power supply. And if there is no power at all, as is often the case in regions where vaccines are most needed, then the system can be combined with solar power.


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