High density dry ice and advanced Isothermal packaging for the maintenance and transport of Covid-19 vaccine at -70 ° C and -20 ° C. Click for contacts.  -  Discover the Covid-19 vaccine transport solutions at 2-8° C

Covid-19 vaccine transport
at -70°C and -20°C

The maintenance of the cold chain for storage at -70 ° C and -20 ° C of the first anti-covid-19 vaccines starts from dry ice.

To overcome the challenge of storing the Covid vaccine below zero, it is essential to focus on high quality dry ice and on companies with both high production capacity and high sources of supply of the raw material.

Dryce produces High Density Dry Ice and is the first producer in Italy.


Dry ice consists of solid state CO2, has a constant characteristic temperature of -78.5 ° C, is always ready for use and does not require any activation process.

The main property of dry ice is density.

This indicates how many kg of product are contained in 1L of Volume. It is simple to produce low to medium density dry ice, but it is difficult to produce high density dry ice. Only market leading suppliers have this know-how. The importance of product density is quickly explained. In the highest quality product, for the same volume, the weight is greater, so there is more dry ice. This affects the duration of the product over time. Ultimately, a package that contains high quality dry ice will last longer.

Production sites with high production capacity.

The production of large quantities of dry ice requires a particularly developed production structure. The dry ice production plant, to be able to cope with the incoming dry ice demand, for the storage needs of the anti-covid vaccine, will have to manage hundreds of tons of product per day, which implies an extremely high supply and raw material storage capacity, together with a fleet of machines suitable for the necessary productivity. There are very few dry ice production sites in Italy so developed that they can manage this production volume.

The availability of raw material.

Dry ice makers are generally not also producers of the raw material, liquid carbon dioxide. In order to ensure the certainty of supply, during the vaccine distribution phase at -70°C and -20°C, it is essential to select dry ice producers, who are also able to produce the raw material. This is an essential condition to be sure of uninterrupted supply in peak periods.

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Pharmaceutical companies have identified particular isothermal packaging, to be used together with dry ice, to ship vaccine doses at -70°C and -20°C from their warehouses. The conservation duration of the declared temperature to date is 10 days, if we comply with the dispositions of use issued by the pharmaceutical company. After this period, to extend the duration of maintaining the temperature at the correct value, it is mandatory to add more dry ice in the same package.

  • It may be necessary to distribute the vaccines in several centers throughout the territory, having only the -70°C packaging provided by the pharmaceutical company available. In this circumstance it will be necessary to have a similar packaging, characterized by high thermal insulation performance, coupled with the use of dry ice. This solution is optimal for the storage and transport of low temperature products. The isothermal container described practically becomes a frost-free Ultra Freezer at -78°C, which lasts up to 5-10 days, depending on the mode of use.

  • Over time, the dry ice present in the containers sublimates and gradually disappears, returning to its natural state of gas. The rate of sublimation of dry ice is a characteristic data of the specific container and is known to the manufacturer. To restore the packaging it will therefore be sufficient to order a supply of dry ice and refill the isothermal container.

  • To use dry ice it is not necessary to have any equipment: just order the desired quantity from your supplier who will deliver it in special isothermal containers.

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Qualified Thermal Packaging

If it is necessary to store the vaccine at -70°C and the original packaging supplied together with the vaccine, by the pharmaceutical company, is not available it will be necessary to have an advanced isothermal container, similar to that used by the pharmaceutical company.

There are many isothermal containers on the market that can be used with dry ice, but these do not have a cold chain shelf life similar to that certified by pharmaceutical companies are going to use, for covid-19 vaccines shipping at -70°C. The consequence is a high consumption rate of dry ice and a high risk of breaking the cold chain.

The conservation solution of the vaccine at -70°C must be made from an unconventional and advanced isothermal container compared to the standard. ThermoKube is the solution developed in a 100% made in Italy key, for storing the vaccine at -70°C, with a duration of between 5-10 days, according to the method of use of the packaging.

ThermoKube is an advanced isothermal container, consisting of internal thermal insulation ensured by latest generation vacuum panels, with very low thermal conductivity. It is developed to withstand the glacial temperatures of dry ice, with an extremely low sublimation rate.


Covid-19 vaccine transport

Discover one of our dry ice and isothermal packaging production sites, in the “Pomeriggio 5” service on Canale 5, Italian TV.

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Frequent questions

Maintaining the cold chain represents a major challenge in every sector. There are many sectors in which it is necessary to store heat-sensitive products at a controlled temperature and, depending on the type of product, there are different storage methods that can be adopted. There is a big basic distinction between food and pharmaceutical products. The degree of attention in the conservation processes of the cold chain in food is different than in the pharmaceutical world. The added value of the pharmaceutical product and its considerable sensitivity to thermal excursions, if exposed to the risks of an interruption of the cold chain, which could involve the total or partial deactivation of the active ingredient within it. Consider, for example, the vaccine against COVID-19, developed by pharmaceutical companies and which is awaiting marketing authorization from the EMA. This vaccine needs to be stored at -70°C and a temperature excursion above this threshold (generally above -60°C), can lead to such deterioration, as to no longer allow its use.

Storing a product at a low temperature, taking care that it constantly remains in the correct storage temperature range, is an all the more complex challenge, the lower the temperature to be maintained. The technological problem, of controlling the temperature over time, today finds solutions known but which are difficult to implement, in relation to the scale factors to be taken into consideration. Storing at -70°C has always been a typical research activity and, for this need, there are refrigerators capable of maintaining temperatures like this or lower. However, since the need has always been limited to the needs of small quantities of product to be preserved, the refrigerators available on the market are small and are not able to contain all the enormous quantity of vaccine now needed. Furthermore, the problem is not only related to the warehouse phase, given that with the technologies in place, a large warehouse refrigerated at -70°C can be built, but the problem consists in creating a supply chain, able to ensure that the drug that leaves the main warehouse of the pharmaceutical company, can maintain the required temperature.

Today there are no refrigerated trucks on the market to meet the temperature requirements, especially in relation to the obligation to maintain a constant temperature range at which the vaccine is stored. For this reason, the world of logistics is mobilized to find a solution that is immediately available and capable of solving the problem. This solution was found in dry ice transport. Dry ice is in effect the panacea to solve the enormous distribution problem that has arisen, as it is a material that is constantly at -78.5°C and therefore, by immersing the boxes with the bottles inside it of vaccine, it is possible to stably thermostat this product for as long as necessary. However, transporting in dry ice is not as simple as it may seem, as it undergoes weight loss over time, transforming from solid to gaseous, while yielding frigories to the product to be transported. The speed with which dry ice is reduced in the packaging until it disappears completely depends on the degree of thermal insulation that the packaging used for transport can guarantee. There are two vitally important needs, the first is to use packaging with high thermal performance and the second is to have dry ice available for any topping up, during transport and storage. The choice of packaging is vital in order to allow the transported product to maintain -70°C for as long as required, i.e. a period that can range from 5 to 10 days. This period of time is enormous, for standard dry ice storage, and for this reason it is necessary to resort to isothermal packaging never imagined before, with a very high level of thermal insulation.

In any case, even if the vaccine arrives at its destination still at the correct temperature, the problem arises of continuing to store it over time until its use and this opens up a very complex scenario, which affects the operations of adding or refilling dry ice in every single package, that is, millions of packages throughout Europe and hundreds of thousands for every nation. The challenge of refill logistics will therefore be the real big challenge that every nation will have to guarantee through its own logistics and health services.

The transport of products at very low temperatures has always been a particularly serious problem for the shipping sector and for manufacturing companies. The products that need to be stored at a very low temperature, the most used one is -80°C, are related to the biotechnology, genetics and pharmaceutical sectors. These are particularly unstable molecules, which require careful handling and strict control of the storage temperature. Suffice it to say that biotechnological research based on mRNA predicts that under normal conditions, these molecules rapidly lose their functionality within 24 hours, if not stored at the prescribed temperature of -80° / -70°C. Some vaccines developed by pharmaceutical companies are obtained using mRNA technology, therefore they require the same storage temperature. The major limitation in transport at -80°C is due to the lack of refrigerated vehicles capable of reaching the required temperatures. Furthermore, for obvious time requirements, these products must be shipped in combined mode, using both by land and by air. In the handling phases of the packaging from the logistics warehouses to the means of transport, there are inevitably manipulations, which lead to having to keep these packaging in environments that are not thermoregulated at -80°C, think of the loading and unloading phases of an aircraft cargo. All these limitations can be solved only by adopting high-performance packaging, which themselves are able to maintain the correct temperature inside. Therefore, the solution to transport at -80°C involves the adoption of special isothermal packaging, equipped with a unique level of thermal insulation, never managed before. In order to work at a temperature of -80°C, these packages need to be filled with dry ice.

Dry ice is carbon dioxide in the solid state and has the characteristic of maintaining the temperature of -78°C stably over time. While it releases frigories to the product stored in the packaging, the dry ice undergoes a transformation and progressively passes into the gaseous phase, until it disappears completely from the packaging. The technological challenge of the packaging developed for the transport of covid vaccines at -70°C is therefore linked to guaranteeing two fundamental aspects, the first is the constant maintenance of the product temperature at -70°C, the second that of guaranteeing a duration of dry ice inside these packaging acceptable, before the next refill, the operation with which it will be necessary to add more dry ice in the packaging, in order to restore the correct quantity and allow the packaging to continue to store the vaccine at -70°C.

The technological challenge on packaging has been won, as these high-performance packaging have been developed for -70°C. However, it will now be necessary to understand how the challenge of maintaining the temperature of -70°C over time after delivery can be overcome. In fact, if it is true that these packaging allow an autonomy of temperature conservation at -70°C between 5 and 10 days, it is also true that the vaccines will most likely be used over longer periods of time, from delivery to the various sorting centers, hospitals and points of administration. These latter centers, which have a non-negligible capillarity on the territory, are not equipped to store such large quantities of vaccine at -80°C and therefore will almost necessarily have to carry out refills, i.e. refills of dry ice in the packages received, in order to warehouse, avoiding the deterioration of the vaccine itself. The new challenge we will have to prepare for will therefore be to ensure the widespread and relentless supply of dry ice to the entire national network, in order to avoid the worst of problems, the temperature excursion of the vaccine and its spoilage, from occurring!

Not only -80°C but also -20°C, what are the differences between the two transport systems?

Transporting at -80°C requires a great deal of technological effort, in fact thermostating at this temperature is possible only by combining dry ice, as a refrigerant medium, with high-performance isothermal containers. The durations that can be managed with the containers, usually adopted on the market, vary within a maximum of 24-96 hours. The new high-performance packaging recently developed for the transport of covid vaccines at -70°C, have characteristics never before introduced in a packaging solution of this type and allow to guarantee a duration of up to 10 days, from when preparing the packaging. In any case, to ensure that the correct temperature is maintained all the time, it is essential to provide direct contact between dry ice and the transported product. Therefore these are contact refrigeration systems, i.e. the transported product, vaccine or drug, is immersed in dry ice. This is the only condition that allows the correct temperature value to be reached at the heart of the transported product in a certain and lasting way. Obviously the solution has a duration and this duration is due to the progressive disappearance of the dry ice, which, by yielding frigories to the transported product, is transformed into gaseous carbon dioxide.

At the end of the duration of the packaging activity, the dry ice inside will have completely disappeared. In any case, given that the storage temperature depends on being immersed in dry ice, these packages require, for correct temperature conservation, to keep the product immersed in dry ice for the entire duration of transport. Therefore, if it is necessary to extend the stay of the product in the packaging, for example if it is necessary to extend the shelf life of the Covid vaccine at -70°C for more than 10 days, it will be essential to provide a refill, i.e. add more dry ice in the packaging. This operation will allow you to indefinitely extend the duration of storage, as long as it is carried out in due time and correctly.

Unlike transport at -80°C, those at -20°C fall within the scope of a more usual case study. In fact, pharmaceutical companies, but also food companies, usually plan shipments at this temperature. In this circumstance are commonly used both solutions with active refrigeration, i.e. means of transport equipped with cells at -20°C, and solutions equipped with passive refrigeration, i.e. packaging capable of autonomously refrigerating the transported product, more or less similar to those used for transport at -80°C. Even the warehouse of solutions at -20°C does not raise concerns in the logistics and production system, as it is extremely common to have cold rooms at -20°C of various sizes.

The indisputable advantage of refrigerated packaging in transport at -20°C arises when it is necessary to carry out a fragmentation of shipments. For example, if one of the new vaccines for Covid among those stored at -20°C needs to be distributed on a national basis, then the question arises of how to guarantee the integrity of the cold chain of many medium-small packages shipped to everyone hospitals, hospital sets and administration points, scattered in a very capillary manner throughout the territory, from the national logistic hubs of reference. In this case it can be successful to adopt extremely safe and reliable systems, qualified for this type of shipments and used for at least a couple of decades every day in traditional drug logistics at -20°C. Using isothermal packaging activated with dry ice can be an immediate and risk-free solution to allow the correct conservation of the cold chain, thus allowing you to use a normal structure of express couriers to deliver the product to any destination in Italy within 24 hours.


Dryce is the first Italian producer of dry ice and, together with its parent company Nippon Gases, is among the top three producers in Europe of the raw material needed to produce dry ice.

Dryce is the only major European producer of dry ice that integrates the entire production chain, from the production of the raw material, liquid CO2, to the production of High Density dry ice, to the design and construction of the packaging necessary for its use, for transport to controlled temperature of drugs and thermosensitive products in the range from -78°C to -50°C, from -20°C to 2-8°C, up to 15-25°C.

Over twenty years of experience gives Dryce the specific know-how to provide qualified consultancy on the logistics and storage of pharmaceutical products at a controlled temperature.

Thanks to its CO2 recovery systems, Dryce produces dry ice with the maximum possible efficiency, halving the amount of CO2 necessary for its production (from about 3 kg to 1.5 kg of CO2 per kg of dry ice). This element is fundamental as the production is not only among the most eco-sustainable in Italy, but also guarantees a significant lower dependence on the availability of raw materials, compared to standard producers. Dryce has a wide range of isothermal containers for dry ice, disposable or reusable, from 3 to 300 lt capacity, made of very high thermal insulation performance materials. . Dryce’s Customer Service is constantly operating in the "just in time" management of the supply needs of its Customers, serving every day Pharmaceutical Companies, Hospitals, Analysis Laboratories and Logistics Operators.

Contact us

call us +39 02 92393501
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