Novel cold-chain container withstands harsh transport conditions

Skycell AG's combination of advanced insulation and thermodynamic control provides landed-cost savings

At the LogiPharma meeting (Princeton, NJ; Sept. 16-18), Skycell AG updated its progress since introducing the company’s 770C Thermostable system to the US market last year. The Zurich, Switzerland company has worked through business and regulatory processes to enable shippers from Europe to convey products (generally delivered by air) to Brazil without the need to repackage products once they come off the aircraft—and while maintaining refrigerated temperature control through the entire importation and local-delivery process. This provides a competitive advantage relative to active unit-load devices (ULDs), which generally stay at the airport and are unloaded there.

The Thermostable system is a novel combination of gel-refrigerant and insulation technology. The pallet-size device has an outer plastic shell, a low-thermoconductivity insulation panel, and a “thermal barrier” panel that is essentially a gel pack set at a 6°C melt/freeze point. Within a defined time range, the unit loses cooling in hot environments, but gains it back in colder environments, which can extend the operating life of the unit substantially. IT is also designed with sustainability in mind; the outer and inner shells are recyclable plastics, and the entire unit weighs 270 kg (unloaded).

In the Brazil shipments that have been completed—for biologics going from Zurich to Sao Paulo--the company found that tarmac time (out of the aircraft and before delivery to a refrigerated warehouse) could range as high as 5 hours in 55°C temperatures; clearing customs could take as long as 21 days. Product was delivered safely at a 22% lower cost of operations than alternatives.