Preventing Temperature Abuse - Pharmaceutical Technology

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Preventing Temperature Abuse
Innovations protect the quality of temperature-sensitive products.


Pharmaceutical Technology
Volume 35, Issue 2, pp. 34-37


The International Air Transport Association's time- and temperature-sensitive label. (PHOTO IS COURTESY OF THE INTERNATIONAL AIR TRANSPORT ASSOCIATION)
A large, compressor-based heating–cooling unit capable of maintaining a temperature-controlled environment for five European-sized or four US-sized pallets recently received an airworthiness certification from EASA. It maintains internal temperature between 0 and 25 C in ambient conditions ranging from –25 to 50 C (RAP e2 container, Envirotainer).

A passive pallet-shipper system for full or half pallets provides thermal protection for more than 120 h (i.e., five days) without requiring any power. The design relies on phase-change material and vacuum-insulated panels. The reusable system provides a 48 40 52-in. space with a payload capacity of 890 L (31.4 ft3 ) or a 48 40 30-in. area that holds 406 L (14.3 ft3 ) (Credo Xtreme pallet shipper, MTS). The pallet shipper is part of a range of reusable thermal containers (Credo Cube) that are used by the largest temperature-controlled healthcare transportation provider in Canada (ATS Healthcare).

Another passive system consists of a lockable trunklike unit that is durable, reusable, and compatible with security scanning. Capable of maintaining temperatures between 2 and 8 C for as long as five days, the system is available with payloads of 36 L (1.27 ft3 ) and 11 L (0.4 ft3 ). An optional data logger records downloadable internal and external temperature data to show whether the internal temperature remained in spec throughout the shipment's travels (Kodiak Active Temperature Control Shipping Containers, Active CC Boxes).

A similar reusable design with handles and a latch relies on plant-based phase-change technology and encapsulated vacuum-insulated panels to boost performance while reducing weight. The passive temperature-controlled system produces about seven times the insulating effects of common alternatives such as expanded polystyrene and polyurethane (OrcaTherm temperature-controlled packaging, Intelsius).

For less stringent applications, a passive system maintains an 11 11 5.5-in. (0.4 ft3 ) payload area in the 2–8 C range for 72 h. It consists of gel packs, expanded polystyrene (EPS) panels, and an outer plastic or corrugated case. The unit holds 1 to 7.5 lb of product (TimeSaver 72, Cryopak). All components of the packaging are recyclable, and the EPS insulating panels contain as much as 20% postindustrial recycled content.

Another advantage of the design, which won a Greener Package Award in 2010 from Summit Publishing, is the energy- and time-saving nature of the phase-change material used as the core refrigerant. It freezes and thaws at 5 C and does not need to be pre-conditioned in a refrigerator or freezer (Engineered Phase 5 phase-change material, Cryopak).

For smaller quantities that are delivered quickly, an inflatable thermal envelope maintains the contents between 2 and 8 C for as long as 24 hours. Patented construction blocks heat transfer and cushions the product, too. Delivered inflated, the reusable pouch features a zipper closure and dual compartments: one for product, and one for cooling-gel packs. It's available in 1-, 3-, and 5-L sizes (One Day pharmaceutical pouch, Coldpack).


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