Envirotainer, a specialist in freight containers for pharmaceuticals and other temperature-sensitive goods, unveiled a mock-up of its latest thermostat-controlled product at the CPhI conference in Frankfurt, Germany.
The new product marks a departure for the company because, unlike Envirotainer's earlier models, it can provide both heating and cooling functions to maintain the desired temperature. The firm's earlier models use a dry ice cooling system but have no heating or thermostat function.
Johan Nordenberg, a project engineer at Envirotainer who worked on the design of the new container, told In-Pharmatechnologist.com that there is a large demand for product that can handle both heating and cooling of pharmaceutical supplies, for example in extremely cold environments.
The results of a broken cool chain can have A significant impact on companies, through the loss of product from issues such as crystallisation or denatured proteins but also in terms of reputation in the marketplace.
The new product represents an evolution of the firm's earlier containers. The company was among the first to look at active temperature control as an alternative to standard insulated packing units and introduced the Envirotainer CLD, which combined a dry ice cooling system and battery-powered heating element, last year.
The new version does away with the need for a dry ice bunker and replaces it with a standard compression-based refrigeration system, which makes handling easier and also increases the usable volume of space inside the unit, according to Nordenberg.
Meantime, Envirotainer has increased the thickness of the walls of the container in order to provide additional insulation. This maintains a more even temperature inside and extends the running time of the battery, he noted.
The new container has an effective cooling range of between -20 degrees and +40 degrees centigrade. Battery life depends, of course, on the ambient conditions, but Nordenberg noted that it can be as much as 30 hours when the external temperature is 30 degrees C. A recharge can be carried out by simply attaching the power cable to a power supply, with no need for any other operator intervention, he added.
Envirotainer is still waiting for a certificate of airworthiness for the model, and makes no predictions about when it may be commercially available, other than to say it will be sometime in 2004. Likewise, there is no information yet on leasing costs as the unit is still in field-testing trials.