The company SAVSU, which stands for “State of the Art Vaccine Storage Unit,” is clear about its mission. Inexpensive vaccines can save millions of lives, yet 14-35% of vaccines worldwide are exposed to freezing conditions that compromise or destroy them. A passively cooled vaccine storage container would be an enormous boost to health care and immunization programs in developing countries.
Bruce McCormick of SAVSU designed the Nano Q container to store vaccines at proper temperatures while utilizing ice as thermal energy. Typically ice can freeze and destroy vaccines. But the Nano Q makes use of advances in materials science including NASA technology to overcome the freezing potential of ice while harnessing its energy storage capacity. SAVSU also began development of a solar thermal icemaker for the Nano Q. It attempted to overcome the limited success of previous attempts at solar thermal ice making by redesigning the technology for small volumes of ice.
Through NMSBA, McCormick teamed with Eric Coker and Brian Iverson of Sandia National Laboratories to undertake a massive review of technology relating to solar thermal ice makers, calculate optimal thermal performance criteria, and create a design basis to apply solar thermal ice making capability to the SAVSU cooler. “Our goal is to have a pre-assembled ice maker that can be shipped with the NanoQ container,” says McCormick. “With help from NMSBA, this package of equipment will utilize only solar energy and will bring life saving vaccines to the far reaches of the world.”