Selected LAPP cables for vaccine refrigeration

When you’re entrusted with transporting Covid-19 vaccines that need to be stored at -70 degrees Celsius, you want to be sure that all of your systems are up to scratch, including cables and connector systems.

That is why L&R ​​Kältetechnik, which produces refrigeration systems for the exceptionally low temperatures encountered by the chemical and pharmaceutical industries, turned to LAPP for its cables.

Failures could cost not only valuable commodity, but even lives, said Simon Pullinger, managing director of LAPP Australia.

The parent company of LAPP Australia, the world leader in cables, connectors and LAPP automation technology – with 4,650 employees and markets in more than 100 countries – was asked for a refrigerated container solution that overcomes temperature problems in two ends of the extreme temperature scale.

L&R Kältetechnik was approached by a German vaccine manufacturer, BioNTech, to help it bulk ship millions of doses at a time of its vaccine, after approval for widespread use.

The vaccine only tolerates standard refrigerators for a short time before it is administered. BioNTech supplies the vaccine in boxes that act like large thermos flasks, keeping the contents cool for several days, explains LAPP. But what can logistics companies do if they want to ship the vaccine in containers by air or sea, where the transport takes longer?

L&R came up with the idea of ​​taking a conventional sea container with a length of 20 or 40 feet and installing a refrigeration chamber, including cooling and even a stand-alone emergency power supply with a diesel generator or the liquid nitrogen – and making sure everything has a backup in case of failure.

A standard 40 foot long container can hold a 40 cubic meter refrigeration chamber with a temperature of minus 80 ° and a preliminary chamber at minus 20 °, which acts as a low temperature airlock. The storage area is estimated to have a capacity of up to 3.5 million doses of vaccine.

For such low temperatures, transport companies normally have to use dozens of laboratory freezer cabinets, which are not only expensive, but require a lot more power and space.

Hot and cold

The cables used to make this container application possible must withstand harsh conditions in the form of extreme temperatures, both cold and hot. For example, the refrigerant passes through the evaporator at a temperature of minus 90 ° C. Fans ensure heat dissipation.

To prevent their electric motors from freezing, the bearings are heated. The two compressors have an output of 20 kilowatts each and currents of 40 amperes flow through the ÖLFLEX Classic 110 wiring (one of the LAPP cables that L&R Kältetechnik uses exclusively for its innovations, relying on specialized products from the same ranges available in Australia). Directly on the diesel generator, the temperature can rise to more than 100 ° C, it is positive.

In the cold storage compartment, where the temperature can reach minus 100 ° in some places, ÖLFLEX HEAT cables with a PTFE sheath are installed. With these, L&R Kältetechnik is really on the safe side, because the ÖLFLEX HEAT 260 SC is suitable for the most extreme application requirements. It is robust, chemical resistant and space saving for use in machine and equipment construction from -190 ° C to + 260 ° C.

Heating for lights and door frame

In addition to the power cables for the cooling system, the container also contains cables for transmitting signals, for example the temperature sensor which controls the frequency converter and therefore the compressor. In addition, the operator can connect a data cable in the control cabinet to a customer interface.

There are also cables that are not responsible for cooling, but for heating. When you turn on a light at home, it should not be covered, so that the heat can dissipate. In the vaccine store, the problem is precisely the opposite. In this case, the LED light strips actually need to be heated, otherwise they might just break down.

And the door’s rubber seal between the lock and the storage chamber would immediately freeze, leaving anyone inside trapped and quickly in danger of death. As a result, there is a heater on the door frame and door contacts to monitor when someone enters the room. The person in the low temperature part of the container must regularly press a button.

If there is no signal, the person may have fallen unconscious and an alarm is triggered. Any electrical fault could cost lives, which is why L&R ​​Kältetechnik is playing it safe with LAPP cables.

“In our quotes, we not only specify the properties of the cables, but also whether they are ÖLFLEX cables from LAPP and what type. It really makes a difference for our customers, ”says Christoph Wiemer, Special Systems Sales Manager at L&R Kältetechnik

Incidentally, minus 80 ° Celsius is not the coldest system from L&R Kältetechnik, which produces refrigeration chambers operating down to minus 110 °, including some for therapeutic applications.

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