Keeping vaccines cool with hydrocarbons in remote areas

Keeping vaccines cool with hydrocarbons in remote areas

More than 20 SolarChill HFC-free vaccine coolers by a Danish manufacturer have been installed in Kenya’s dry areas, the latest one at the rural Iloodokilani health centre in Kenya’s Rift Valley. Another type of solar powered R600a vaccine cooler is offered by a British manufacturer, which in August 2011 was shortlisted for receiving a 2011 RAC Cooling Industry Award.

Solar Chill hydrocarbon vaccine cooler for Iloodokilani health centre

The Iloodokilani health centre’s vaccine cooler was donated through a partnership between the government of Kenya, PATH International, the World Health Organization, the Danish Technology Institute and the United Nations Environmental Programme. The centre’s unit has a storage capacity of 20 litres and can keep vaccines at temperatures between 2° and 8°C for five days after one initial charge of solar energy. With the new refrigerator, the centre can attend 60 to 100 babies a day.

SolarChill combines several “breakthrough” technologies, including environmentally friendly Greenfreeze refrigeration technology with hydrocarbon refrigerant and insulation foam, and unlike other solar coolers it does not rely on batteries to store the energy of the sun. Thanks to the use of a direct current (DC) compressor, solar energy is stored in ice, which keeps the vaccine cabinet cool overnight.

Commercially produced by Danish company Vestfrost, the SolarChill vaccine cooler model MKS 044 was field-tested 2 years under extreme conditions in Senegal, Cuba and Indonesia and was prequalified in March 2010 by the World Health Organisation’s (WHO), under its Performance, Quality and Safety (PQS) prequalified devices and equipment (PQS E003/009 “Vaccine refrigerator for solar direct drive with ancillary battery”).

In spring 2011, WHO carried out an annual review of E003 and revalidated the approval of the SolarChill vaccine cooler, which will be next subjected to the 2012 annual review.

The current generation of SolarChill is prequalified for 20º to 32ºC ambient temperatures. However, in field tests the units have operated under lower and higher ambient temperatures ranges of 10º to 42ºC.

R600a Sure Chill vaccine cooler by UK manufacturer

UK based company True Energy also offers a solar powered vaccine cooler. The “True Energy Vaccine Refrigerator” features “Sure Chill technology”, meaning that it can operate on intermittent or poor mains supply, battery-free solar power or a combination of the two, to make sure vaccines are stored safely even in tough environments. According to the company, the cooler can operate safely even when power is lost for over 10 days at ambient temperatures as high as 43°C.

The DC version of the vaccine cooler is HFC-free, using hydrocarbon refrigerant (R600a).

In August 2011, True Energy’s Sure Chill Refrigerator was shortlisted for receiving an award under the 2011 RAC Cooling Industry Awards that will take place on 28 September 2011 in London, United Kingdom.

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