VTI calibrates flow standards to protect ingredients for prototype COVID-19 vaccine

Two Fixed Sniffer calibrated leaks with Teflon permeation elements (FSLTs). These calibrated leaks will help researchers protect ingredients for a prototype COVID-19 vaccine from microscopic contaminants.

Slowly sweeping a helium sniffer probe across the exterior of a vacuum-sealed crate, a chemical engineer looks for leaks. Inside, raw ingredients for a potential COVID-19 vaccine rest in a cool, ultra-sterile environment. The engineer inspects junctions, joints, and any other potential access point through which harmful microbes and contaminants mere nanometers in size could creep.

“It’s absolutely critical that these compounds remain pure. To do that, we need to make sure they’re properly stored in a high vacuum environment,” said the engineer.

To support a customer in the pharmaceutical industry as they work to bring a COVID-19 to market, calibration technicians at Vacuum Technology Incorporated (VTI) prepared two Fixed Sniffer calibrated leaks with Teflon permeation elements (FSLTs). These flow standards, which are calibrated to detect leaks as small as 1×10-6 atm-cc/sec and as large as 1×10-4 atm-cc/sec, will help engineers and technicians find defects in the vacuum-sealed containers they use to transport ingredients for vaccines. The customer, who asked to remain anonymous, needs to move these ingredients from one location in their facility to another so that scientists can incorporate them into a prototype vaccine for COVID-19.

“People tend to think that vaccines are just a single substance. But really, they’re a blend of different substances that work together to inoculate people from viruses and infections,” said the engineer.

VTI’s FSLT calibrated leaks have helped customers in a wide variety of different industries calibrate their helium sniffer leak detectors. Its permeation leak element makes it impossible to clog, which means it’s perfect for industrial environments. But it’s also sensitive and highly accurate, making it an appropriate tool for high science and medical applications as well.

“The FSLT is a really versatile flow standard. It provides customers with the durability necessary for an industrial tool, but also the reliability you need for more delicate experiments and procedures,” said Joshua Carmichael, who manages VTI’s A2LA-accredited (Cert. 1701.01) calibration laboratory.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, it’s important to remember that each of us has a role to play in combating this pandemic. Whether we’re washing our hands more frequently or crafting calibrated leaks, every contribution makes a difference.

“All these pieces have to come together. No one company or group can solve this problem by themselves. We have to work as a team,” said the engineer.

Vacuum Technology Incorporated (VTI) is the world’s single largest supplier of calibrated leaks, providing flow standards to hundreds of companies, universities, and governments across the globe. VTI’s calibrated leaks are critical components of vacuum systems that power innovative industrial manufacturing techniques, space exploration, and scientific research. For more information, visit https://vacuumtechnology.com/.

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