VAXXWAGON: An Innovative "No Ice, No Electric" Active Refrigeration System for Last-Leg Vaccine Transportation

VAXXWAGON is a way to transport and refrigerate vaccines so that they can be safely delivered to remote clinics and villages globally.

Photo of Anurudh Ganesan
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Date You Started Your Project Started


Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.

  • Start-Up (first few activities have happened)

1. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

UNICEF said that an estimated 1.5 million infants and children die annually through vaccine-preventable diseases. why is this? The Cold Chain is the process of transporting vaccines from vaccine manufacturers to remote locations. This process is logistically challenging as it depends on many resources to properly store the vaccines. Current methods may accidentally overheat or freeze the vaccines rendering them useless.

2. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

VAXXWAGON is a refrigerator that can revolutionize society. It is simply "wheel powered refrigeration" revolutionizing vaccine transportation to remote locations globally. VAXXWAGON uses no ice and no electricity to provide refrigeration for vaccines while storing and transporting them to remote clinics. It's like your refrigerator at home, without a plug! By utilizing the turning of a wheel, my system can provide refrigeration for vaccines while in transit for its life-saving mission. You also don’t need to power VAXXWAGON for the entire day while going to these remote locations. Thanks to phase change material included in the design of the system, which stores cooling and prevents overheating as well as the freezing of the vaccines, and as a result, health care workers won’t have to power the system for the whole day!

3. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project?

When I was a year old, my grandparents had to carry me 10 miles to a remote clinic in southern India for me to receive a vaccination. when we got there, the vaccines were contaminated due to high temperatures and lack of refrigeration. I was lucky that my grandparents could bring me back later so that I eventually got the vaccination. But others are not as fortunate. When I found out about this, I asked a question to my dad: why is this still a problem 15 years later? His reply really changed the arc of my life: he said, how can you allow this to happen to others when you were given the gift of a second chance? I thought about it for several days, then made a decision: I need to find a solution that will save infants and young children, and give them a second chance just like I was given.

5. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of what happens when a person or group gets involved with your project.

Hypothetically, a first-aid worker will use VAXXWAGON to transport vaccines from a central hospital to a remote clinic or village. On the trip there, they would only need to power the system for a maximum of 8 hours in a day using any mode of transportation such as a bike, moped, or even an animal. After the worker administers the vaccines, they can take samples back to the central hospital so that it can be analyzed and appropriate treatment can be given.

6. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?

Others have noticed a need for better last-leg vaccine transport. Two examples were Princeton professor Winston (Wolé) Soboyejo and Rogers Feng, a student of Northwestern University in Chicago. Dr. Soboyejo proposed that solar panels carried by a camel will charge a battery which in turn powers a standard electric refrigerator.Mr. Feng’s system utilizes a hand crank in order to power a generator which charges a battery which is inefficient. Both these proposals are impractical in general situations because of size, weight, and inefficiency.

7. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?

So far, VAXXWAGOn has not been deployed but I am currently working on developing a field-ready prototype so that it can be used to save lives. While working on this project, I spoke to many other kids my age to inspire them to solve a problem that is personal to them. To me, VAXXWAGON is a success when it saves its first life and many more lives after that.

8. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?

By the end of this year, I plan to have a prototype of VAXXWAGON ready so that it can be used in the field. After collecting data in the field, I plan to improve the performance of the device and further iterate upon it. Partnering with NGO such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation or the Red Cross would be a great help as they are currently investing solutions for last-leg vaccine transportation. For the next year, I plan to roll out the first iterations of VAXXWAGON so that it can be used in the field to save lives.

9. Which of the following types of expertise would be most useful for you?

  • Project Plan & Strategy

10. Finances: If applicable, have you mobilized any of the following resources so far?

  • Friend support
  • Family support
  • Mentors/advisors

Help Us Support Diversity! Part 1 [optional] Which of the following categories do you identify with?

  • Asian (for example: Chinese, Filipino, Indian, Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese, Pakistani) (9)

Help Us Support Diversity! Part 2 [optional] Do you identify as part of any of the following underrepresented communities?

  • No, I do not identify with an underrepresented community

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Social media


Join the conversation:

Photo of Aditya Desai

Anurudh: Great idea! Vaccines are critical to public health, on a global basis. Logistical difficulties associated with transport, however, limit widespread use, and the Vaxxwagon tackles this. Looking forward to seeing your future progress!

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