Business has been heating up for industrial refrigerator maker HTS-110, which has just sold its first cryocooler unit, which operates at temperatures below -250 degrees Celsius, to a Timaru client.
Lower Hutt-based HTS-110 uses Kelvin International technology from the United States that creates liquid nitrogen. It has built a durable industrial frame around the cooling units - two metres wide by one metre deep and able to make 20 litres of liquid nitrogen a day - so that they can be sold commercially and used in e farming and mining.
In agriculture, liquid nitrogen is used to keep bull and other types of semen preserved for animal husbandry. First client South Pacific Sera will use it for preserving vaccines, donor animal blood, serum and protein products used in microbiology and immunology.
"Artificial insemination has become an indispensable tool for genetic improvement in livestock, and the introduction of cryogenic storage has greatly advanced the use of the technology in terms of time and distance," HTS-110 co-chief executive Donald Pooke said.
"For remote places like rural India or South America, cryocooling systems like ours, which are small, durable, efficient and low maintenance, can provide local generation of nitrogen on demand, allowing samples to be flash-frozen on the spot."
Most Kiwi companies that use liquid nitrogen have had it delivered by truck from Auckland. The further the material had to travel, the more would burn off during transit. If roads were closed, valuable samples needing to be frozen could be lost. HTS-110 units let farmers produce liquid nitrogen on site.
In the mining industry, sensors that check for the presence of gold and other materials need to be cooled using liquid nitrogen.
HTS-110 product manager Tijs Robinson said the firm was working on a larger cryocooler that could produce 200 litres of liquid nitrogen a day.
"There are other people that make nitrogen liquifiers and we ultimately compete but we've got a machine [that is] more robust and lower maintenance. There is a company in Holland that makes ones that need to be completely stripped down for maintenance twice a year. We just need yearly oil changes and it can be kept outside in a tin shed at 50C in the Aussie outback. It is designed so people can install and forget it."
The cryocooler, manufactured in Christchurch, could also make liquid oxygen if it were configured for it.
Robinson said it had just secured a further four years of funding through Industrial Research Ltd and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment to develop even colder cryocoolers.
- The Dominion Post
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