There are mainly two types of cooling mechanisms used in the 2-8°C logistics process for biospecimen or drug substances, and they operate on different physics principles.
Evaporative cooling depends on evaporation, which absorbs heat and reduces temperature in the surrounding environment (in this case, the specimen holding chamber). Phase-change-materials (PCM) uses solid-liquid phase change to achieve the same result of temperature control.
Evaporative cooling is easy to use—often, it is done by piercing through a bag of liquid so evaporation can happen. But this process brings notable problems. The main disadvantage is that it is much harder to ensure cooling in a highly controlled fashion, as evaporation is not easily calibrated in a typical package. For example, when a package is travelling through a cold but dry environment, too much evaporation and temperature reduction can occur, potentially freezing the biospecimen and resulting in damages and losses.
An additional problem for evaporative cooling is its limited directionality. Evaporation occurs against the direction of gravity. But a package can often be misoriented during transportation, with the bag of liquid hanging upside down or sideways, creating deviations from its intended use.
On the other hand, PCM can be carefully formulated so that the solid-liquid phase transition temperature is exactly set at a safe temperature, say, 4°C. Because PCM are solid after preconditioning, it is also easier to design a package with PCM on all sides of the packaging, cooling the biospecimen uniformly from all sides and directions, even if the package is misoriented.
Cryoport’s C3™ 2-8°C package uses PCM and vacuum panels to create a highly robust packaging solution, and it is widely used in clinical studies requiring safe transportation of fresh materials such as apheresis or drug substances. It is independently validated to hold its designed temperature for 96 hours even under summer profiles, making it an ideal choice for moving high-value products across the country or across the globe.
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