Ultra-low temperature systems ready for COVID-19 vaccine storage
Mirai Intex, corporate member of the IIR, is positioning its ultra-low-temperature (ULT) systems to serve as the refrigeration technology for the storage of COVID-19 vaccines and the freeze-drying of the components of the PCR tests for the detection of COVID-19.
As highlighted in the IIR press release on the front page of this issue of the Newsletter, refrigeration is an essential link in the logistics to be implemented to stem the COVID-19 epidemic, in particular in the context of the distribution of vaccines under development or in the certification process.
Some of these vaccines, such as the one developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, which use synthetic messenger RNA novel technology to activate the immune system against the virus, need to be stored at –70°C or below and cannot be stored in conventional medical freezers.
Mirai Intex’s ULT systems use air (R729) as a refrigerant in what is called air-cycle refrigeration which was developed in the early 1900s. Air-cycle technology is based on the heating capability of air during compression stage and cooling down during the expansion process. Repeating of compression and expansion cycles allows to reach and maintain ultra-low temperatures down to – 160°C. Expansion also generates energy, improving the efficiency of the system.
Mirai Intex makes three “open-cycle” ULT machines which can be used to support COVID-19 vaccine storage; they offer cooling capacities of up to 5.4kW, 9.5kW and 14.3kW, respectively. The machines use only air, without a secondary fluid. The 5,4kW unit, the most compact machine, is highlighted by Mirai Intex as “an ideal solution for building medium-sized storage chambers to keep COVID-19 vaccines”.
Mirai Intex’s is also developing “closed-cycle” ULT machines that can be employed for freeze-drying components of PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests used to detect the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19. Closed-cycle machines use air as the primary refrigerant in an indirect refrigeration system. The system comes with a factory-equipped heat exchanger that is optimized to work with silicone oil as a working fluid but which is also compatible with other working fluids.
For both freeze drying and process cooling, Mirai Intex will release in the first or second quarter of 2021 a new closed-cycle product, the Mirai Cold 15 T, which features a more powerful motor than its predecessor, Mirai Cold 10 T, yet is the same size. The new model can maintain ultra-low temperatures from -40°C to -110°C and is expected to have up to 10kW of cooling capacity.