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Dry ice freezer for vaccines

The ultra-cold dry ice freezers from the manufacturer Merebit can store vaccines for up to seven days at a temperature of -78⁰C.

Vaccination against COVID 19 currently takes place mainly in larger vaccination centers. In order to scale up the vaccination capacity, it is important to also realize a good infrastructure at decentralized vaccination centers, such as general practitioners, pharmacists and healthcare institutions. These passive dry ice freezers create the facility to store Pfizer / Biontech vaccines at the correct temperatures.

Ensuring Vaccine Effectiveness

The reason for maintaining such low temperatures is the relative instability of RNA - a piece of information in the form of ribonucleic acid, which is an important component of this type of vaccine. In fact, it produces particles of the virus that the immune system responds to.

According to the vaccine insert, RNA is also sensitive to vigorous shaking of the vial, but especially to the action of various enzymes, and cooling to low temperature will prevent possible degradation. For example, the Ebola vaccine also required a historically low temperature. With other vaccines such as Moderna and Astra Zeneca, such low temperatures are not required.

Passive versus active vaccine freezers

Pfizer / Biontech vaccines are shipped across the EU from the factory in Puurs, Belgium, in passive freezers with five layers, each layer containing 195 vials - glass vials made from frost-resistant borosilicate glass. After dilution, one vial contains a vaccination dose for up to 6 people. The bottles are covered with 25 kilograms of dry ice and if the freezer is not opened more than twice a day, the cooling is guaranteed for five days without the need for additional refrigerant.

At the destination, the vaccines are transferred to an active ultra-cold freezer, which reaches the required temperatures using multiple compressors. The disadvantage of these freezers is their price, which can exceed many thousands of euros; high electricity consumption and currently poor global availability, limiting the spread of vaccination to GPs, pharmacies, nursing homes and other facilities.

The passive vaccine freezer from Merebit

The dry ice freezer is well insulated by means of a thick layer of polystyrene with an admixture of carbon nanoparticles to prevent heat loss due to infrared radiation. Vacuum insulation panels or airgel construction - one of the lightest materials on earth can also be used. Thanks to them, it is possible to achieve the necessary insulation effect even at a third thickness compared to polystyrene, but the price of these modern materials increases the price of the freezer several times, so these materials are used only in rooms where the standard freezer size cannot be placed.

To secure the cold chain, the freezer can be connected to a:
  • » thermometer with data logger (with alarm function)
  • » CO2 meter (with alarm function)
  • » Hepa Air purifier with carbon filter for healthy air


Dry ice for vaccine freezer

Solid carbon dioxide (dry ice) is used as a refrigerant for the designed freezer. Dry ice distribution can be provided by most technical gas suppliers. This widely used refrigerant is used, for example, in the transport of fresh goods, in the prevention of premature fermentation of grapes, in cooling the dough during kneading, but also as an ecological abrasive for cleaning surfaces. The standard freezer can hold 11 kg of refrigerant, but the capacity can be increased on request. The consumption of dry ice by the freezer is approximately 2 kg / day. The price of dry ice is approximately € 3 per kilogram.

One kilo of dry ice releases 541 liters of carbon dioxide gas. The freezer must therefore not be hermetically sealed and is secured so that it cannot tear. An increased CO2 level causes fatigue or headaches. The large amount in an enclosed space can also cause suffocation. However, the CO2 emissions from the freezer are relatively small and spread over several days, so it is usually enough to ventilate. Merebit also offers a CO2 meter as an optional accessory.

CO2 meter