Tyvek Xtreme Breathe-400

DuPont unveils a ‘third-generation’ thermal blanket for cool-chain pharma shipments

A breathable version of the company’s Tyvek material minimizes humidity effects


Thermal blanketing is taking a more central role in pharma logistics, at least in regions of the world where the EU Good Distribution Practices (GDPs) are followed rigorously. Those GDPs emphasize that temperature control of pharma shipments is not limited to refrigerated (2-8°C) biologics or vaccines; it also applies to the label claims of controlled room-temperature (CRT) shipments (generally, 15-25°C, although there are numerous exceptions). Shippers following rigorous GDP rules need to keep CRT shipments within the temperature range claimed on the drug label, or provide good reasons (such a heat stability budget) why excursions are permissible.

DuPont Protection Solutions is the company division marketing Tyvek, the company’s nonwoven plastic sheeting, to multiple industries including logistics. Now, it is introducing a third-generation product, designated as Xtreme WD-50, to address a recently recognized problem of thermal blankets: the accumulation of condensation, caused by hotter, humid air interacting with a cooler payload under or within the confines of the blanket. Another potential source is water vapor released from the payload itself due to temperature variations (apparently, these problems are well-enough recognized in the logistics industry that terms like “cargo sweating” or “container rain” are heard, according to a white paper about to be published by DuPont). This condensation potentially can damage the packaging that pharma products are shipping with; a worst-case scenario could be wet paper or packaging generating mold and mildew on the package over time.

The first-generation WD product was a thermal “cover”—simply a Tyvek sheet to protect against solar heating and afford some level of airflow control; the second generation was a multi-layer product that includes an insulation layer to enhance temperature control. Now, this third-gen product provides for reflectivity, insulation and vapor control—the same sort of “breathing” common in sports apparel. “No other commercially-available cargo cover on the market successfully combines these performance characteristics,” claims Fred Fleury, marketing manager at DuPont, “This makes the new Tyvek Xtreme Cargo Cover a particularly reliable option when it comes to protecting ‘room-temperature’ pharma products. It is also designed to provide supplementary thermal protection to passive containers and to rigid, uninsulated ULDs [unit load devices, used in air cargo] as a component part of qualified systems.”

The new product will be unveiled at the LogiPharma Europe event (Montreux, Switzerland) on April 19-21. More information on DuPont cargo covers is available at cargocovers.dupont.com.