A start-up supported by the Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) has developed a portable, battery-powered refrigeration device for safe and efficient transportation of vaccines, the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) said in a statement on Thursday.Developed by Blackfrog Technologies, the device, called Emv lio, will help solve the current challenge of last-mile delivery of vaccines amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The DBT said Emv lio has a two-litre capacity, enabling it to carry 30-50 vials. The device is equipped for continuous temperature monitoring, location tracking, state-of-charge indication, and communication with headquarters via live-tracking, it said. BIRAC is a public sector undertaking under the DBT. The device’s underlying refrigeration mechanism is solid-state cooling with a smart PID (proportional integral derivate) controller, which guarantees precise temperature maintenance without the risk of noxious refrigerant leakage or cross-contamination, it added.
The lack of motors/compressors or any moving parts enables low-maintenance operation. The unique design of Emv lio promises uniform cooling and minimal freeze-thaw cycles. The device can maintain the temperature between 2 degrees Celsius and 8 degrees C for up to 12 hours in the field. The innovation solves the current challenge of last-mile vaccine delivery as iceboxes which have no mechanism for temperature control and regulation are currently being used. The absence of temperature control and regulation in iceboxes also poses the risk of accidental freezing and thawing, rendering the temperature-sensitive vaccines inefficacious.
The star-tup has received grants from BIRAC. Blackfrog has a production capacity of 1,500 units/month, and Emv lio is now being deployed across northeastern India with necessary clearance from the National Health Mission, the DBT added. Till now, it has sold 200-plus carriers across five states in India for safe, last-mile delivery of vaccines.