KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Oak Ridge National Lab researchers say they’ve figured out a way to make sure COVID-19 vaccines stay super-cold for long periods of time while they’re being stored or transported.

Currently, most COVID vaccines are stored at minus 70 or 30 degrees Celsius. OLRN shared that the current transport methods use dry ice to maintain desired temperatures. However, longer travel times, particularly to remote locations, require extended refrigeration.

A retrofitted commercial storage container created by Carrier and ORNL provides a resource for safe delivery of COVID-19 vaccines to remote locations. Credit: ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy

ORNL scientists created a testbed using a lightweight aluminum container equipped with a refrigeration system, vaccine packages and optimal cargo layout and storage rack design that kept temperatures consistent and uniform throughout the container. The lab says tests showed the method was able to keep vaccines at those ultra-low temperatures twice as long.

“We significantly increased the dry ice life, providing reliable temperature control and a safe, secure solution for cooling vaccines for transport and last-mile storage,” ORNL’s Jian Sun said.

ORNL believes this could really help in getting vaccines to the so-called “last mile” – which is a challenge in remote areas that lack special equipment. To read the full study, click here.