Design Engineering

UWO researchers develop high-tech organ, vaccine transport cooler

By DE Staff   

General Medical

Portable cooling unit provides precise temperature control to preserve delicate cargo.

(Photo credit: Rob Potter/Western University)

A team of researchers from Western University has developed and constructed a portable temperature regulating device, designed to transport organs, vaccines and other temperature-sensitive items.

According to Western mechanical engineering professor and project lead, Kamran Siddiqui, medical facilities still use primitive cooling methods, like ice packs or ice cubes, which limit the ability to keep sensitive items within a narrow temperature range necessary to prevent tissue damage or spoilage.

The new device, developed by Siddiqui and Steven Jevnikar, his former graduate student and now a research associate at Lawson Research Institute, can be controlled and maintained at a constant-set point temperature for an extended period of time. Battery powered, the portable cooler can vary its internal temperature to different set points for different time durations and be controlled and monitored remotely.

According to Siddiqui, the high-tech cooler uses phase change materials to release and absorb energy to maintain a required temperature range, which is narrow for safe and effective transport of COVID-19 vaccines currently under development.


“The need for safe transportation has never been more evident than today as the global COVID-19 pandemic affects all of our lives,” said Siddiqui. “Our technology is very promising and has already attracted international interest.”

The project arose from collaboration between Western Engineering, the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry, the Lawson Health Research Institute and LHSC Centre Multi Organ Transplant Program. It is supported by NSERC grants, as well as WORLDiscoveries.


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