Haier Biomedical: Achieving vaccination along the “Belt and Road”!
After walking along a narrow and twisting dirt road in Tiliti Gerbi Village, a small village in Central Ethiopia, one may notice a long line in front of a wooden cabin. Here you will find a long table with a chair and a modest cabinet with the immunization station for local residents in the cabin, which is less than 10 square meters in size.
The most obvious device in the immunization station is the Solar Direct Drive (SDD) Vaccine Refrigerator from Haier Biomedical, which is entirely powered by solar energy and requires no electricity. Solar energy storage will sustain power to the unit for more than 5 days; with the combination of water and ice, it will keep a constant temperature; and the efficient heat pipe will maintain a consistent temperature for seven days following a power outage.
This technology is now being applied globally, serving 45 million children worldwide and boosting the immunization rates in low-income countries.
This is what the team led by Enrique Wang, a micro-enterprise owner from the solar vaccine safety team of Haier Biomedical has achieved. They have broken through the 20-year monopoly and introduced China's vaccine solution to 78 countries along the "Belt and Road through innovation and dedication."
Challenge and Opportunity in Africa
“In the 365 days in any particular year, my colleagues and I may take 250 days to expand projects and integrate resources in Africa.” Although there is only a dozen members in Enrique’s team, they all have the same commitment, determination, passion, and aspire to innovate for the betterment of all.
After graduating from university, Enrique came to Haier by chance in 2012, this is when he started with the Solar Direct Drive (SDD) vaccine storage solution, he learnt that many countries far away in Africa were still unable to guarantee basic immunization coverage due to power shortages. Keen enough to make a difference, he realized that it was an opportunity for industry reform and a cause that will benefit humankind.
From this point in time, Enrique was determined to bring Chinese technologies to Africa.
However, it was not easy. Enrique endured a fair share of unthinkable hardships and impediments during the overseas travel while seeing firsthand and experiencing local issues, including the discomfort caused by excessive heat, travel impediments as well as security issues.
“Creating Solar Direct Drive Cold Storage Technology
In 2019, the small immunization station in Tiliti Gerbi Village, Ethiopia, was crowded with villagers who took their children for vaccination.
Grace Teshomet took her one-year-old child for poliomyelitis vaccination. She said, “In the past, I used to travel and endure extreme heat and walk all day with my child to get a safe and effective vaccine, but now, we can receive vaccination at our doorstep. Solar Direct Drive (SDD) Vaccine Refrigerator from China has brought us great convenience and life.”
The changes are practical and gratifying. Indeed, prior to the Solar Direct Drive Vaccine Refrigerator, the immunization station had used refrigerators powered by gasoline and electricity as well. However, such refrigerators showed a variety of problems while in use, including insufficient temperature uniformity, fire hazards, and failure to meet the vaccine storage requirements.
Through investigations and experiments, Enrique’s team from Haier Biomedical found that solar energy is the most economical, safest, and feasible method to store and transport the vaccines.
“At that time, European enterprises took the lead in developing the combined storage design of solar energy + battery + refrigerator, which created a lot of technological barriers in the past 20 years. Enrique said, “When we started this project, the European enterprises expected that we could buy their technologies, because they believed that we could not develop them ourselves or even if we spent another 10 years we would not achieve. However, we overcame this lack of respect and confidence from our competitors and now we have the leading products in the industry, with the technological accumulation and resources of Haier, we have succeeded.”
A major task faced by the team that needed to be solved urgently at that time was to develop a more reliable solar direct drive cold storage technology integrating efficient cold storage and constant temperature control.
The only way to break through the barrier was to remove the battery. However, that would be followed by two worldwide problems.
The first one was the refrigerating unit should maintain efficient output regardless of the changes in natural light intensity. Finally, under the leadership of the world’s top algorithm experts, the team developed an innovative compressor control algorithm that can maintain stable refrigeration under unstable conditions which ensured efficient cold energy storage.
The second issue was how to maintain efficient refrigeration and temperature control without any battery and electronic control system?
Through unremitting efforts, the team finally created a high-density cold storage module, which could maintain the inner temperature below 8℃ for as long as 120 hours even if in 43℃ ambient with a power outage or in extreme weather conditions without sunlight.
Additionally, considering the desert environment with relatively large temperature differences between day and night, the team designed a combined system through the use of the alkane hygrothermal hot materials applied in aerospace technology. Such a system can maintain the temperature constant in a large temperature zone up to 50℃, which sets the new highest standard for vaccine preservation.
With the help of new technologies such as the Internet of Things, 24-hour temperature monitoring can be realized. You may learn about the operation of each refrigerator worldwide even in China, with transnational monitoring.
In 2015, the Haier Biomedical Research and Development Team developed the first Solar Direct Drive (SDD) Vaccine Refrigerator, delivering solar direct drive cold storage and breaking through the foreign technological monopoly. Haier Biomedical created a new technical route successfully.
Whole-process Integrated Services
“What distinguishes us from the European countries is that we can provide whole-process integrated services. Now, we have gradually shifted from being a product supplier to a provider of whole-process, full-scenario, and full-lifecycle vaccine network service solutions, providing users with one-stop provider of services from equipment supply, warehousing, logistics, distribution, installation, and training to after-sales service to the last mile – complete cold chain from manufacturer to inoculation.”
Enrique leads the team to provide customized services for local users depending on the logistics and maintenance conditions requirements. The whole process of integrated services has improved the immunization coverage and also the awareness of disease prevention among local residents.
“Previously, we could not afford the high maintenance costs of the refrigerators, which led to low usage of refrigerators. The Solar Direct Drive (SDD) Vaccine Refrigerator from Haier Biomedical is fully powered by solar energy and can maintain a constant temperature. The most amazing thing is that the Haier Biomedical team will come to check regularly and tell me how to use it properly. The Internet of Things device supplied with the refrigerator enables the Haier Biomedical team in China to monitor the operating conditions in real-time and alarms in case of any problem so that timely maintenance can be arranged. This makes me feel that I am no longer a user, but a beneficiary. The vaccine refrigerator can also greatly guarantee the safety of the children and parents coming for vaccination.” said the head of the local vaccination site, who gave high praise to the Solar Direct Drive (SDD) Vaccine Refrigerator.
“Replicating the experience all over the world to bring health to all corners of the world”
When talking about the achievements of the solar vaccine storage solution developed by his team, Enrique humbly and proudly told us, “Although our solar storage solution started relatively late in the global market, it has achieved rapid development in the past 3 years and reached a market share of plus 35％.”
KEPI National Vaccine Center thumbed up for the Solar Direct Drive (SDD) Vaccine Refrigerator
The vaccine team in Guinea installed solar panels for the user
Solar Direct Drive (SDD) Vaccine Refrigerator in India
“For me and my team, we have an obligation to fully solve the practical vaccination problems in remote areas to the fullest extent possible and to assure the safe and effective vaccination in power shortage areas. It is also an important undertaking worth fighting for all our lives.”
Under the efforts of Enrique and all team members, Haier Biomedical has delivered the Solar Direct Drive Vaccine Refrigerator to 78 countries along the “Belt and Road”, including Guinea, Myanmar, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan. 150,000 sets of vaccine refrigerators have been installed and operated worldwide to offer safe vaccination for 45 million children at appropriate ages all over the world.
Group photo of Bangladesh users and members of the micro-enterprise team of Overseas Vaccine Network
The vaccine refrigerators arrived in Pakistan
Cooperation between Haier Biomedical and Zambian Ministry of Health
The Solar Direct Drive Vaccine Refrigerator Team has been delivering this technology continuously with passion to different countries in all conditions . Through cooperating with the Pasteur Institute and WHO, the team has established solar labs and solar clinics in countries such as Senegal. In the future, the team at Haier Biomedical will continue to export China’s smart life sciences solutions to bring health to all corners of the world, to make life better with the intelligent protection of life science.
Haier Biomedical cooperated with CLL providing hundreds of cold chain equipment and devices to offer full-scenario cold chain solutions for vaccine storage, transportation, and temperature monitoring in Myanmar.