Sure Chill Company awarded $1.4 million to develop portable vaccine
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 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
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