Panasonic Corporation has developed VIXELL, a vacuum-insulated box for transport of vaccines and other medical supplies items that require strict temperature control to store in a -70ºC environment for up to 18 days using refrigerants such as dry ice.
Up until now, conventional insulated boxes have been manufactured by joining vacuum-insulated panels (VIPs) together, but a drawback of this structure has been that cool air leaks through the gaps where the panels join. Panasonic has long been engaged in the research and development of VIPs, and has used them to reduce energy usage in refrigerators and other products. The company has eliminated this leakage-an inevitable issue when using VIPs-through the development of Vixell boxes, created using a proprietary cast-molding method which completely prevents cool air from escaping through gaps seen in conventional boxes. The 57-liter type uses urethane foam and glass wool as insulating material, and compared to previous Panasonic prototypes, improves coolness retention performance by around 30%. Inside these boxes are thermal storage units, and the temperature is maintained by filling the inside and outside of these units with refrigerant. Vixell can accommodate a diverse range of temperature zones, including the dry ice temperature zone (below -70ºC), the below -20ºC zone, and the 2ºC-8ºC zone.
Until now, the insulating material used in these cooling boxes has been covered in a plastic sheet. The shock-absorbing structure of Vixell reduces the risk of damage to this plastic sheet.