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Biomedical Refrigerators and Freezers: Reliable Cold-Chain for Biologics

Biomedical Refrigerators and Freezers Market

Healthcare | Mar, 2021

An often neglected but extremely important part of healthcare facilities is the use of biomedical refrigerators. The medical-grade refrigerators are designed to store time and temperature-sensitive biological products such as vaccines, biological reagents, flammable chemicals, medical dosages, blood, etc. as they offer optimal temperature and efficient storage. If these materials deviate from a particular temperature range, safety can be compromised, and financial losses might incur. Ensuring the quality of temperature sensitive materials largely depends on the kind of cold-storage unit installed for storing the biological materials. Some healthcare facilities opt for household refrigerators to save money, but this choice can prove to be detrimental in the long run, compromising the integrity of sensitive medical products. Whereas biomedical refrigerator and freezer require a high up-front cost, but they provide a better investment over time than domestic units.

 

The biomedical refrigerator and freezer offer a favourable environment for the biomedical products, providing stable temperature and restoring temperature quickly in case of excursion. The compressor installed in the biomedical refrigerator and freezer have greater efficiency for reaching and maintaining the target temperature. While a conventional refrigerator might take around 15-20 minutes to restore the temperature once the door is opened, specialized biomedical units consistently stay within the range and maintain a stable temperature. Biomedical refrigerators and freezers are extensively used in research laboratories, blood banks, diagnostic centres, hospitals, pharmacies, and educational institutions.

 

Unlike typical refrigerators, biomedical appliances have a microprocessor-based system that accurately measures and monitors interior temperatures using digital sensors such as thermocouples, resistance temperature detectors (RTD) and thermistors. The biomedical refrigerators and freezers also have a fast temperature recovery apparatus that respond immediately to out-of-temperature readings. Some medical-grade refrigerators allow health workers to locate items inside before opening the door to help maintain the unit’s temperature since the door is opened for less frequently.

 

According to TechSci research report on, “Global Biomedical Refrigerators and Freezers Market, By Product (Pass-Through, Explosion Safe, Flammable storage, Combo/Dual Temperature, Ultra Low freezers, Plasma freezers, Others), By Storage (Blood, Vaccines, Plasma, DNA, Flammable chemicals, Others), By Temperature (RNA & DNA (-70°C to -80°C), Vaccines (-30°C to -40 °C), Others), By Capacity (138L, 169L, 221L, 230L, 426L, 690L, Others), By End-user (Hospitals, Pharmacies, Diagnostic Centers, Research Laboratories, Blood Banks), By Region, Forecast & Opportunities, 2025”, the global market for biomedical refrigerators and freezers was valued at USD 2.88 billion in 2019 and is projected to grow at a CAGR of 4.72% in value terms during the forecast period. Biomedical refrigerators and freezers have the capabilities to store the biological samples like blood and urine at the desired low temperatures for diagnosis and testing purposes. Rise in number of blood banks all over the world calls for biomedical refrigerators and freezers to provide high quality samples to the patients. Additionally, biomedical refrigerators and freezers are environmentally friendly as they release less GHG in the atmosphere, which is anticipated to positively impact the growth of the market until 2025. However, the high installation cost is a major restraining factor of this market.

 

Types of Biomedical Refrigerators

 

Based on the type of application, Biomedical refrigerators can be divided into four categories.  

 

Laboratory refrigerators

Laboratory refrigerators are designed for the storage and preservation of laboratory products to maintain consistent temperatures and monitor temperature with digital displays. The laboratory refrigerators include lockable easy-to-clean sections as they are used to cool samples and preservations. The lab fridges come up with anti-frost fans to keep moisture down inside the cooling chamber and provide a dry environment to the dried reagents or materials, susceptible to moisture contamination.

 

Blood bank refrigerators

Since blood is an excellent culture medium for bacterial growth, it must be kept at designated temperature-controlled storage at 2-6 degrees. The blood bank refrigerators are specially designed to avoid the risk of bacterial growth and contamination. The blood bank freezers are used to store fresh frozen plasma and cryoprecipitate a less than -30O   to maintain its potency.

 

Chromatography refrigerators

These are specifically designed to store samples and results of research experiments. The refrigerators can be best used for medical samples and procedures that require precise temperature settings and stability.

 

Explosion proof refrigerators

Explosion proof refrigerators and freezers are designed with spark-free interiors and exteriors to utilize it as a flammable storage unit. These refrigerators prevent ignition from flammable vapours or gases present in the surroundings. Some explosion-proof refrigerators also contain special design features such as magnetic door gaskets, self-closing doors, and special inner shell materials that prevent the occurrences of accidents.

 

Factors to Consider before Choosing a Biomedical Refrigerator

 

Every healthcare facility or clinic has its unique storage needs when it comes to refrigeration. Therefore, one must consider the following factors before making the purchase of biomedical refrigerator and freezer.

 

Purpose

 

Stakeholders should choose the biomedical units that meets the primary requirement of the health care facilities depending on their product and service offerings. Most manufacturers offer all-refrigerators, freezer less refrigerators, and all-freezers in place of refrigerator-freezer combination. While some refrigerator-freezer units are preferable to keep staff items, beverages, ice packs, etc., these are not suitable for vaccine storages to avoid contamination and reduce frequency of opening door, which can harm the interior contents. Consider stackable units or opt for slimmer side-by-side sets if you require both refrigeration and freezer temperatures for storage to help accommodate the needs.

Size & Capacity

Biomedical refrigerators and freezers are available in different sizes, from compact to large-capacity models. The stakeholders should choose the optimal size of the biomedical unit depending on the organizational needs, space available in the facility, and amount of inventory. Overcrowding biomedical products in biomedical units that are too compact can result in poor internal airflow while too spacious units can affect internal temperature and lead to unnecessary energy consumption.

Placement

Most biomedical refrigerators are generally designed for either built-in installation or freestanding use. If the refrigerator is going to be place under a counter or surrounded by cabinets, it must be designed for built-in installation with a fan that pushes air out of the front otherwise absence of ventilation might hamper the performance of biomedical refrigerators. Whereas free standing refrigerators do not require an exterior fan and usually come at a relatively low price than build-in refrigerators.

Temperature requirements

There is no standard temperature setting for all biological products, but it is advised to keep them within the temperature range of 2 to 8ºC. The medical-grade refrigerators should not have the temperature swing of more than 2ºC outside the thermostat set point. While most standard freezers run between -10º and -20ºC, the laboratory freezers can reach between -45º and -85ºC. Since every sensitive material has a unique temperature requirement, it is best to know the details before deciding.

Shelving

While glass shelves are preferred for easy accessibility and cleanability, they are not recommended for medical storage because the surface can impede cooling circulation. Instead, opt for a biomedical refrigerator that include wire shelves, or shelves with ventilation holes. Some vaccine refrigerators come with interior drawers with solid fronts to facilitate an ambient temperature when door is opened. In some cases, drawers can be constructure from wire or installed with added space in the rear to promote air circulation and ensure better organization.

Temperature Monitoring

Temperature monitoring ensure that the refrigeration is working properly and performing according to the standards. Rather than assigning staff to take regular temperature readings from a thermometer, the data loggers in the biomedical refrigerators enable one to record temperatures at user-set time intervals. Many biomedical refrigerators and freezers also include audio temperature alarms that creates a sound when the unit falls out of pre-set temperature range.

Conclusion

With the growing demand of medical-grade refrigerators and freezers, manufacturers are fortifying biomedical units with various innovations. Some biomedical units feature self-closing doors, which prevents units from accidentally left open by busy staff. The advanced biomedical refrigerators come with hospital-grade cords with solid pins and giant plug bodies to reduce the occurrence of contour shock. Some units also feature auto-frosting capabilities to avoid time-consuming manual defrosting and reduce maintenance costs. For vaccine storage, the units should always need to stay frost-free to ensure the safety of vaccines and avoid frozen vials. Most institutional refrigerators come with keyed locks, combination locks or digital keypad to offer more security to store items. The rapid advancements in biomedical units and growing demand for vaccines and other sensitive biological materials are expected to drive the biomedical refrigerator and freezer market in the coming years.

According to TechSci research report on “Global Refrigerant Market, By Type (Fluorocarbons, Inorganics and Hydrocarbons), By Application (Refrigerators, Large-Scale Refrigerators, Chillers, Air Conditioners, Heat Pumps and Others), By Company and By Geography, Forecast & Opportunities, 2023”, Global Refrigerant Market is projected to reach USD 18.15 Billion by 2023, growing at a CAGR of over 4%, in value terms owing to the rapid growth in the consumer electronic segment which in turn drivers the refrigerants market as consumer electronic devices like refrigerators, air conditioners etc require refrigerants. Moreover, the increasing demand from the cold chain market coupled with the rising need of energy-efficient appliances is expected to propel the growth of the market in the next five years. Based on the type, the fluorocarbon refrigerants segment is expected to grow at the fastest CAGR due to its applications such as energy efficiency, decreased flammability, and lower corrosive nature. Based on the applications, the refrigerators segment leads the market due to increasing disposable incomes and spending power of the middle class on appliances, such as refrigeration systems. Asia-Pacific is anticipated to dominate the market in the next five years due to widespread use of consumer electronics like refrigerators and air-conditioners in constituent regions like China and India.

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