Ice packs, cold packs, cold accumulators, gel packs, eutectic plates or freezer blocks, so many names that make you confused. OLIVO briefly advises you on what to understand, how it works, what to choose for a perfect respect of the cold chain, what impact has this choice on the cold chain.
There are many many ways in French or in English to call eutectic plates.
In this way the words ice pack, cold pack, gel pack, cold accumulator, eutectic plate, freezer block and so on are designating the exact same thing: a liquid solution that will be transformed into a solid by freezing it and that will release the cold, accumulated in the freezer, when becoming a liquid again.
However, while designations may have the same meaning, in practice there can be huge differences between the cooling solutions that can be found on the market.
Indeed, a mainstream ice pack/cold pack/cold accumulator generally refers to a “cartridge”, a blown plastic wrapper simply filled just with water. This type of refrigerant, comparable to a bottle of frozen water, is interesting for a sunny Sunday when we plan to have a picnic. However, when it comes to delivering temperature-sensitive products with an obligation of result (e.g. chilled or frozen food products, ambient, refrigerated or frozen pharmaceutical products, etc.), these are not satisfactory solutions in terms of the quality of cold provided (stability) or in terms of temperature maintenance duration.
Gel packs as well as professional eutectic plates or freezer blocks are the best answers to professional purposes. As a matter of fact, this type of coolant is composed of water but also of mineral salts and the difference is there. Adding mineral salts, according to their type, quality and concentration, makes it possible to vary the phase change temperature (freezing temperature) of the solution. Thus, the temperature phase change required for a eutectic plate for frozen products will not be the same as the one of another plate for chilled products. This has a direct influence on the temperature released by the cold source (e.g. an eutectic plate at -21°C should be frozen at -26°C and will release a cold at -18°C) and this confers it a qualitative character.
Another parameter that is interesting in gel packs or eutectic plates is the eutectic temperature. Indeed, this eutectic temperature, specific to this type of professional refrigerants, allows a slow and constant (stable) release of the accumulated cold (frigories or negative calories). The cold diffused by a eutectic plate for chilled products will therefore be of 0°C until the eutectic mixture has completely liquefied and not -3°C with a rapid flow and temperature rise.
It is the choice possibility of phase change temperature (depending on what you need) and the stable cold release that characterize professional freezer blocks.
But then what is the difference between gel packs and eutectic plates? Gel packs, in addition to the eutectic solution, incorporates viscous agents, making the solution pastier. The positive point is the homogeneity of the water-mineral salt mixture, which allows a homogeneous release of the cold. However, gel packs have a lower durability compared to eutectic plates. This is why OLIVO, in order to ensure the durability of its products, has decided to opt for eutectic plates with a rotational molded wrapper such as insulated containers and a eutectic solution without viscous agents but still offering the same advantages.
OLIVO therefore recommends the use of eutectic plates to its customers and offers a range of 7 eutectic liquids with 7 different phase change points to meet all their expectations (also depending on their business) and different colors (to make it smoother for operators).
To conclude, it is important to remind some tips: