It is one thing for Americans to gain access to COVID-19 vaccines, but it is another to transport them to willing populations all over the country while keeping them viable in the process. While some states wait for their share of the supply, cryogenic gas producers and distributors are anticipating a spike in demand for the gases that will be used to send them both nationally and internationally.
Trains, trucks, and planes will transport vaccine shipments that must be kept at -80 degrees Celsius throughout travel. Dry ice is used for transporting both food and biological samples and can maintain these crucial subzero temperatures for three to five days. Dry ice works well for shorter travel times until vaccines reach a destination where they can be refrigerated in another storage container.
Between the States and Canada, 30 to 35 thousand tons of CO2 are produced each day, 15 percent of which is used for dry ice production. Spikes in dry ice demand have been anticipated for months, however it is estimated that less than five percent of the North American supply will be required. So, having enough dry ice will not be a problem.
Though dry ice is an easy and popular resource for keeping vaccines cold, cryogenic storage tanks using liquid carbon dioxide are preferred due to their longevity. Some storage tanks can hold more than 200 gallons. When poured into the core, the liquid gas is partially absorbed before the vapor swirls around the container. These tanks are capable of keeping vials cold for as short as ten days and as many as 30 days, making them ideal for temporary storage if needed. Remote locations and rural areas are the best candidates for this type of equipment.
There is one problem with the growing demand for carbon dioxide as a vaccine cooling agent. Overall CO2 supplies are still recovering from last year’s shortage when ethanol plants were shut down and workers were furloughed. It is not only COVID vaccines that are spiking the need, but other medical related industries that are anticipating it for various needs in labs, hospitals, and home delivery services.
If, at any time, the CO2 supply becomes scarce or difficult to get ahold of, there is another possible alternative.
As a backup to dry ice and liquid carbon dioxide, liquid nitrogen is another cryogenic gas with the capabilities to keep vaccines cold enough to last ten plus days in storage. Liquid nitrogen is twice as cold as liquid carbon dioxide. While keeping vaccines at -160 degrees Celsius is unnecessary, vaccines cannot freeze or become ineffectual under harsher temperatures. As a means of avoiding obstacles with dry ice or liquid carbon dioxide availability all together, or as a plan B, liquid nitrogen is still on the table.
Keeping vaccines cold throughout storage and transportation is yet another reason why carbon dioxide is so important. Rocky Mountain Air is dedicated to serving customers across industries with flawless dependability to ensure they maintain reliable service even when global gas supplies are tight. A partnership with RMA provides the peace of mind that our customers remain a priority. Our cryogenic experts can assess your needs for dry ice, liquid carbon dioxide, or liquid nitrogen for a wide variety of applications, including vaccine cooling agents.
Contact your local branch today if you would like to partner with us or have any questions regarding cryogenic gases. We look forward to serving you!