Gates Foundation awards grant to develop portable vaccine cooler

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation recently awarded a $100,000 grant to True Energy, a Gwynedd, Wales-based refrigerator firm, to develop a portable cooler for the storage of vaccines in areas without reliable power.

True Energy's Sure Chill fridge can stay at four degrees Celsius for more than 10 days without power. The refrigerators use an energy-storage material and are in widespread use in the developing world, particularly in Sierra Leone, Niger, South Sudan and Haiti, BBC reports.

True Energy said it recently received $1 million worth of orders from UNICEF and other humanitarian agencies to use the refrigerators in health clinics in Ethiopia, Chad and Zimbabwe.

"In his recent BBC (Richard) Dimbleby lecture, Bill Gates described vaccines as a 'miracle tool', but stressed that there are still millions of children in the world who miss out," Keith Bartlett, the chief executive of True Energy, said, according to BBC. "I am thrilled that the Sure Chill technology is playing a significant role in the global fight against disease and especially delighted that it has received recognition and support from this influential organization."

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has given away close to $30 billion of the couple's fortune with tens of billions more in the pipeline.

Gates spoke about his commitment to eliminating polio from the world during the annual BBC Richard Dimbleby Lecture in January, BBC reports.