One of the key issues exacerbating the carbon footprint is the inefficiency in the transportation process due to inadequate cold chain infrastructure and excessive use of single-use packaging and carbon dioxide-releasing dry ice, amplifying waste and environmental impact.
Countering the healthcare sector’s reliance on such practices, PLUSS Advanced Technologies’ Plusstainability emerges as a groundbreaking sustainability approach, wherein the focus is on leveraging thermal energy to foster good health and wellbeing for the most vulnerable sections of the society. At its core lies a key technological enabler, i.e., phase change materials (PCMs). These materials function as thermal batteries to store and release heat and cold energy at specific temperature points. In a world where over 70% of global energy is dedicated to heating or cooling, PCMs provide a sustainable alternative, mirroring the function of electrical batteries.
A prime example of this innovation is Celsure®, a revolutionary line of containers that utilize PCMs for thermal energy storage. These containers maintain precise temperatures of 2°C – 8°C, 15°C – 25°C, and even -20°C for up to 5 days, ensuring the supply of medicines and vaccines to the last mile. Importantly, they operate without electricity, ensuring the stability of vital medical supplies, including drugs, vaccines, test kits, and clinical trial samples during transport.
Celsure PHC containers maintain desired temperatures for 120 hours
During the second wave of COVID-19, a surge in COVID-19 cases underscored the urgent need for widespread vaccination. However, the existing infrastructure found itself inadequately equipped to meet the stringent temperature and storage requirements essential for vaccine efficacy.
In this crucial time, PLUSS sought to ramp up the production of Celsure boxes to meet the surging demand. SAMRIDH was instrumental in providing essential, timely, and affordable financing support to the enterprise.
The blended financing solution, combining partial risk guarantees and social success notes, gave PLUSS the financial stability needed to double Celsure boxes’ manufacturing capacity from 3,000 to 6,000 packs per month. With SAMRIDH’s support, PLUSS deployed 74,000 units of Celsure during the pandemic, facilitating the timely delivery of temperature-sensitive COVID-19 test kits, drugs, and vaccines to remote areas where maintaining the right cold chain was a considerable challenge. This assistance played a crucial role in enabling PLUSS to effectively scale its operations during a critical period.
Decarbonizing the Supply Chain
PLUSS’s Celsure® has already saved over 50 million vaccines, contributing significantly to reducing medicine wastage due to improper cold chain reasons. The patented designs of PLUSS’s solutions made of advanced vacuum insulated panel (VIP) insulation PCMs are 3X smaller than regular packaging products, thus, optimizing space and reducing waste. Moreover, by replacing single-use CO2-releasing dry ice with reusable and safe PCM for maintaining frozen temperatures, PLUSS has embraced a sustainable approach to packaging.
Pluss’ semi-electric reefer trucks use thermal batteries to store cooling energy when docked, reducing diesel use for refrigeration during transit. The impact has been immense – reducing 2,500 tons equivalent of CO2 emissions from refrigerated trucks since 2016. The PCM-based chest freezers and coolers have additionally saved 18 Giga Watts hours of energy per year.
The profound impact of this technological leap garnered PLUSS the prestigious Government of India’s Technology Day Award in 2021 recognizing its outstanding contribution to revolutionizing pharmaceutical cold-chain packaging .
In addition to reducing the supply chain footprint, PLUSS’s PCM technology is also applied to other critical medical applications. A notable example is MiraCradle®, a device designed to provide therapeutic hypothermia for newborns suffering from birth asphyxia. This product adeptly maintains a temperature of 33–34°C for up to 72 hours, showcasing the versatility and life-saving potential of PLUSS’s innovative solutions.
Further, Pluss has also successfully deployed PCMs and helped in reducing over 30% energy consumption in HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) projects. PCMs in buildings absorb excess cooling energy during low-demand periods and release it during peak times, helping to regulate indoor temperature and save energy.
In the journey to build a climate-resilient healthcare system for India, PLUSS Advanced Technologies, supported by SAMRIDH, stands as a testament to the transformative power of technology, innovation, and sustainable practices. Together, SAMRIDH and PLUSS, not only addressed the immediate challenges posed by the pandemic but have also laid the foundation for a more sustainable and resilient future in healthcare.