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Army Moves Toward Adopting UDRI Technology

As U.S. Prepares For Possible War With Iraq, Army Moves Toward Adopting UDRI Technology

The U.S. Army plans to use a technology developed by the University of Dayton Research Institute in a new refrigerator designed to store blood and move it through battlefields.

Energy Storage Technologies Inc. licensed a "phase-change material" technology from UDRI and is using it in a new portable, battery-operated refrigerator that keeps blood chilled at a precise temperature without relying on ice. With no power, it keeps blood chilled for up to four hours in sweltering 120-degree temperatures.

"When you store blood, you don't want it to get too cold so you have to ship it on ice that's sweating, on the verge of melting. Blood needs to be stored between 34 and 49 degrees Fahrenheit, with a preference to keep it toward the low end," said Mark Arnold, product manager for the U.S. Army Materiel Development Activity at Fort Dietrick in Maryland. "This refrigerator can be used in places like Afghanistan and Iraq, where it gets very hot. It allows you to transport blood around the battlefield, keeping the temperature stable for four hours with no power."

The 130-pound, portable vacuum-insulated refrigerator dubbed HemaCool includes a phase change material that reduces the chilling time and increases the holdover time (time without power). Designed and patented by retired UDRI senior research scientist IvaI Salyer, the phase change material is chemically engineered to melt and solidify at a constant 45 degrees Fahrenheit, absorbing and then releasing latent heat with each conversion from solid to liquid and back again.

"The HemaCool can operate from multiple power sources, including batteries, a car cigarette lighter, a solar panel or any external AC power source," said Lloyd Huff, president and chief executive officer of Energy Storage Technologies Inc. "The Army just put it through vibration and time and temperature testing, and it performed wonderfully."

The HemaCool is an improvement over thermoelectric refrigerators the Army uses now because it keeps the temperature stable and eliminates the need for ice, according to Arnold.

"Thermoelectric refrigerators become overloaded and start generating heat when it's very hot outside," he said. "I like this refrigerator's efficiency. It has a simple, rugged design, and the way the vacuum insulation keeps blood cold for so long is amazing."

The HemaCool can store 40 450-milliliter blood packs or 60 250-milliliter packs.

"This is a very important technology. We're talking about a technology that can save lives," said Huff, noting that the HemaCool can be used by military and civilian emergency response teams, blood banks and hospitals.

The University of Dayton Research Institute holds more than 75 domestic and foreign patents on phase-change materials. The technology is being used in hot and cold packs, pizza-delivery boxes, an electric floor-heating system and microwave-heated clothing, such as earmuffs and scarves.

December 19, 2002

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