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Rolls-Royce & ChefsFridge design cold pods to transport Covid-19 vaccines

28 July 2021

Rolls-Royce and ChefsFridge Co. have teamed up to develop an innovative, ultra-low-temperature pod to transport and store Covid-19 vaccines globally, to meet the challenge of vaccinating patients around the world in nearly any environment.

Credit: Rolls-Royce
Credit: Rolls-Royce

The new ArcticRx system will help bridge the gap in the cold chain currently challenging the global vaccination effort. ArcticRx is a passive, stable, long-term ultra-low temperature (ULT) pod – the first of its kind to support a two-dose vaccine delivery regimen specifically targeting rural, remote and international areas in support of global equitable access and to help share doses as rapidly and quickly as possible.

Allen Barta, Rolls-Royce, Emerging Technologies and Innovation Lead, said, “This new vaccine delivery system developed jointly by Rolls-Royce and ChefsFridge will solve the significant technological challenge of maintaining extremely low vaccine temperatures. Vaccines need to be kept ultra-cold and for long enough to transport them worldwide – and not just one, but two doses of vaccines. Rolls-Royce is proud to bring our innovation to bear on this difficult and crucial challenge and join ChefsFridge in the global fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.”

The ArcticRx pod was designed by Rolls-Royce innovators in Indianapolis and developed with ChefsFridge, also based nearby. The collaboration has led to a final design, with three models manufactured and tested. With the ability to scale quickly with funding, ChefsFridge Co. is currently seeking investment and manufacturing partners as the team moves forward to market. 

As COVID-19 vaccines began to roll out, gaps were found in the system for transporting and storing the doses of vaccines. Current solutions are still expensive, bulky, and inaccessible to many regions without resources like electricity and ultra-low temperature storage at vaccination sites. Most current shipping coolers are only able to carry one of two rounds of doses at a time, causing logistics and sustainability issues. The ArcticRx is reusable, lightweight, and does not require electricity to maintain stable ultra-low temperatures required for mRNA vaccines. ArcticRx can be refilled with additional cooling materials.

Rolls-Royce engineers in the company’s LibertyWorks advanced technology unit in Indianapolis designed the system to solve the challenge. The company then connected with ChefsFridge, a company creating an asynchronous meal-sharing platform along with exact temperature-controlled kiosks to provide a 365/24/7 neighbourhood focused food sharing.

Stuart Lowry, ChefsFridge Co-Founder, said, "From the beginning it seemed a natural fit for our creative approach at ChefsFridge Co. The passion from the team at Rolls-Royce melded seamlessly with our energy for creating a way to help with the pandemic, using the toolbox of cooling engineers, innovation, and the build-it-from-scratch approach. It was not only exciting, but possibly revolutionary, in terms of solving this vital cold chain issue.”

M. Shane Bivens, ChefsFridge Co-Founder, said, “People think the problem is over, but we’re not even close. Initially, we’re looking at immediate global challenges that need to be met. With the help we’re seeking from additional investors and manufacturing partners, the possibilities from this point are enormous for both solving this current pandemic, and shipping and storing other vital medical and non-medical supplies. There are so many life improving medications pharma leaves on the shelf because stable cold chain transportation for extended time periods did not previously exist to move product around the globe.”

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