Infection Intel: Revolutionizing Pharmaceutical Cold Chain: An Interview With SpaceWalker’s James E. Fesmire, MS


Discover how SpaceWalker's innovative cooling solutions reduce carbon footprints and ensure pharmaceutical integrity, setting new standards in sustainable cold chain logistics.

Infection Control Today's Infection Intel: Staying Ahead With Company Updates and Product Innovations.

Infection Control Today's Infection Intel: Staying Ahead With Company Updates and Product Innovations.

What are the most recent advancements in the evolving landscape of sustainable cold chain management in the pharmaceutical industry?

In an exclusive interview with Infection Control Today® (ICT®), James E. Fesmire, MS, cofounder and chief architect of GenH2 Corp, examines sustainable cold chain management in the pharmaceutical industry. Focusing on SpaceWalker's cooling solutions, Fesmire, who is also the founder and president of Energy Evolution, LLC, and the founder of the Cryogenics Test Laboratory at the Kennedy Space Center, discusses the essential challenges facing the sector and how innovative technologies are transforming the future of pharmaceutical logistics.

ICT: Could you elaborate on the specific challenges faced by the pharmaceutical industry in maintaining the integrity of medications while ensuring sustainable cold chain management and how SpaceWalker's innovative cooling solutions address these challenges?

James E. Fesmire, MS, cofounder and chief architect of GenH2 Corp  (Photo credit: GenH2 Corp)

James E. Fesmire, MS, cofounder and chief architect of GenH2 Corp

(Photo credit: GenH2 Corp)

James E. Fesmire, MS: Sustainability in this area means practical effectiveness in the equipment, operations, and methodologies across the cold chain combined with improved energy efficiency and longevity.

One of the industry's main challenges is that the best solution for one application is not the best for another. That is, the specific requirements for each type of cooling need can vary quite a bit. The refrigeration and cooling side is indeed energy-intensive, but it is also important to recognize that the electrical power requirement dramatically increases as the cold side temperature decreases.

SpaceWalker looks to bring together the right mix of technologies, tailor their implementation to the specific need, and provide the best overall solution to the client and end-users.

ICT: You have emphasized the moral imperative of reevaluating cooling approaches in the pharmaceutical sector. Can you discuss how SpaceWalker's sustainable cooling technologies (or solutions) contribute to reducing the carbon footprint of pharmaceutical logistics and what tangible environmental benefits have been observed through their implementation?

JEF: History shows that the evolution and adoption of refrigeration and thermal insulation systems are long-term endeavors.

Great strides have been made in technology development in the last 50 years, but implementing these advancements in the real world takes a concentrated effort, usually along specific lines of problem-solving.

By addressing both the energy consumed by the refrigeration equipment and the energy demands consumed through the many different steps of the chain of cold, SpaceWalker provides high-performance solutions to protect the integrity of the goods while significantly reducing the total energy consumed by the total system through the entire process.

We believe dramatic environmental benefits can be achieved through a holistic design, operation, and methodology approach when applied across the entire cold chain.

ICT: The traditional cold chain model in the pharmaceutical industry often relies heavily on fossil fuels, leading to significant environmental impact. How does SpaceWalker's approach to sustainable cooling differ from traditional methods, and what steps are taken to ensure these solutions meet and exceed eco-conscious standards?

JEF: As I mentioned, cold costs money (energy in diesel fuel or electrical power, for example), and the cost is exponentially higher the colder we go relative to the ambient temperature.

For example, the best solution for 0 °C will be very different for -75 °C versus -150 °C. Pulling together the right combination of refrigeration equipment, container design, thermal insulation systems, and operational features must all be considered to make the biggest positive impact on the environment through reduced fuel consumption and reduced CO2 emissions for the whole process.

True, the long-term sustainability of the cold chain depends on looking at the whole picture, not just the point of use or one link. For example, SpaceWalker’s container designs employ the world’s highest-performance insulation systems. These systems connect the refrigeration side (energy-demanding) and the cold-keeping side (energy-saving) to create the most energy-efficient process for moving toward a clean energy future for the world.

At the same time, delivering the goods in the right cold-temperature condition is critical and must not be compromised. Data, instrumentation, and energy performance metrics are also important parts of SpaceWalker’s systems.

ICT: With climate change becoming increasingly urgent, how does SpaceWalker envision the future of pharmaceutical logistics regarding sustainable cooling solutions? Can you discuss any ongoing research or development initiatives to enhance further the sustainability and efficiency of SpaceWalker's cooling technologies within the pharmaceutical supply chain?

JEF: We have immediate, short-term, mid-term, and even some long-term technologies in the pipeline to be implemented for cooling solutions for pharmaceutical logistics. There is a complex of challenges to be addressed with each specific need.

One key may be to standardize a few solutions to meet the widest range of requirements. The technologies we combine must be practically effective at a favorable cost with reduced energy consumption. For example, for deep cold chain applications (below about -40 °C), we will take advantage of the energy efficiency of large, centralized plants but then “relocate” that refrigeration power to the end-use application in a small, lightweight, and easy-to-handle format.

Smart systems for energy performance metrics and broad data analysis are planned to prove containers' effectiveness and update new designs. Refrigeration units using air as the refrigerant are also under consideration for adoption for larger-size or fixed storage applications.

ICT: What do you want infection prevention personnel to know about SpaceWalker in the field?

JEF: SpaceWalker is very interested in hearing from you to learn more about your problems and needs for cooling, cold storage, or any aspect of cold chain logistics and how we can help. We may already have a solution or be able to refine one that is in the works.

We understand that some current state-of-the-art methodologies may have arisen from technologies and materials available decades ago. Together, we can create a new state-of-the-art based on the latest core technologies.

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