Transporting vaccines in developing countries can be precarious. Highly sensitive to temperature, vaccines can be damaged if they freeze or even if the car transporting them gets stuck in traffic. Loughborough University industrial design graduate Will Broadway utilized his final year at the university to devise Isobar, a mobile vaccine cooler which could potentially save 1.5 million lives.
Isobar heats water and ammonia to generate ammonia vapors, which are released into the main chamber to maintain a temperature of two to eight degrees Celsius (around 35 to 46.4 degrees Fahrenheit) to keep vaccines stable. Broadway designed an insulated backpack that can transport the Isobar easily. He created two methods of recharging the device as well, through propane or through electricity. He specifically designed the Isobar to be small so it could also be carried conveniently via the device’s handle.
Broadway drew inspiration from travels in Cambodia, Vietnam, Hong Kong, and China. He also counts Albert Einstein as an influence. In the 1920’s, Einstein designed a device that provided refrigeration without electricity. The device worked through a chemical process that just needed a heat source. Broadway’s Isobar won him a national James Dyson Award.
Broadway’s goal is not to profit from Isobar, but to get it to the people who desperately need vaccines. He told BBC Newsbeat, “Medical products have such a big markup that it’s unreasonable for people around the world to purchase these items. If it is the best thing available, then it should be out there saving lives…I wanted to make something for people who have next to nothing. It should be a basic human right, in my opinion, to have a vaccination.”
Next up: production. Broadway intends to develop the device for widespread use, and thinks they could also be used to transport organ transplants or blood donations. He said there even could be an application for commercial cooling.
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