Camels inspire researchers create cooling system that works without power supply: Camels have developed a seemingly contradictory approach to staying cool since, while conserving water in a scorching desert environment, they have a thick layer of insulating skin.

MIT researchers have been inspired by this phenomenon to develop a system that helps keep things like pharmaceuticals or food cool in warm environments without the need for a power supply, according to a press release.

Most people would not think of wearing a camel hair coat on a hot day, but the truth is that many people who live in desert environments tend to wear heavy clothing for the same reason.

These types of products can help reduce moisture loss while allowing enough evaporation of sweat to provide a refreshing effect. Tests have shown that a hairless camel loses 50% more moisture under identical conditions.

The new system developed by MIT engineers uses a two-layer material to achieve a similar effect.

The lower layer replaces the sweat glands and is formed by hydrogel, a gelatinous substance composed of water and contained in a sponge-like matrix that allows it to be easily evaporated. It is then covered with a layer of aerogel that plays the role of skin and keeps extreme heat while allowing steam to pass through.

Hydrogels are already used to achieve cooling in some fields, but more detailed tests have shown that the two-layer material (less than half an inch wide) can provide cooling of more than 7 degrees Celsius and five times longer than only this first element.

Camels inspire researchers create cooling system

This system could be used for food packaging with the aim of preserving freshness and opening up greater distribution options for farmers to sell their perishable crops. In turn, it could also allow drugs such as vaccines to be kept safely while being delivered to remote locations.

In addition to providing cooling, the passive system, powered only by heat, can reduce the temperature variations experienced by goods, eliminating spikes that can accelerate deterioration.

One of the authors explained that such packaging materials could provide protection for perishable foods or medicines from the farm or factories, through the distribution chain and into the home.

In contrast, existing systems that rely on refrigerated trucks or storage facilities can leave spaces where temperature peaks are reached during loading and unloading.

The authors have pointed out that, although the basic raw materials involved in the system of two layers are economic, since the aerogel is composed of silica (beach sand), the processing equipment is expensive, so this aspect will require further development to expand the system of useful applications.

The basic principle of using water evaporation to provide a cooling effect has been used for centuries in one way or another, but the idea of combining it with an insulating layer, as camels do, had not used human-designed cooling systems before.

The hydrogel material is 97% composed of water that gradually evaporates. In the experimental configuration it took about 200 hours for a 5-millimeter layer, covered with 5 millimeters of aerogel, to lose all its moisture, compared to the 40 hours of hydrogel with nothing.

The cooling level of the two-layer material was slightly lower, a reduction of 7 degrees Celsius (about 12.6 degrees Fahrenheit) versus 8 C (14.4 F), but the effect was much more lasting.

Once the moisture disappears from the hydrogel, the material can be recharged with water so that the cycle can start again.

The authors have stressed that this discovery can be a great benefit for developing countries where access to electricity is limited.

Camels inspire researchers create cooling system


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Remdesivir should not be given to severe coronavirus patients, according to the president of the European Society of intensive care

The antiviral remdesivir (also known as Veklury) should not be used as standard treatment for COVID-19 patients who have required hospitalization in intensive care, according to Jozef Kesecioglu, president of the European Society of intensive care (ESICM), in an interview with Reuters.

The expert assures that the data collected by the largest efficacy trial developed to date on the drug— the Solidarity study of the World Health Organization-reveals that the drug has little or no effect on the most serious patients.

Remdesivir, originally developed by Gilead to treat Ebola, was the first drug authorized to treat COVID-19 and the pharmaceutical company has marketed the treatment at a cost of more than 2,000 euros.

Because the benefits of remdesivir are unclear, the intensive care Department of the Utrecht University Medical Center in the Netherlands, where Kesecioglu Works, has not used it to treat COVID-19 patients, the doctor assures.

Previous studies by the World Health Organization contradict the results of Solidarity and ensure that remdesivir is effective in severe patients

The company has referred to these studies to question the WHO findings in an emailed statement collected by Reuters: "We are confident that frontline physicians recognize the clinical benefit of Veklury based on solid evidence from multiple randomized and controlled studies."

However, there have also been other investigations outside of Solidarity that have been questioning the effectiveness of the drug to treat COVID-19 for some time by not detecting significant differences between patients who took it and those who did not.

All this seems to be affecting Gilead, which in October lowered its revenue forecast for 2020, citing lower than expected demand and the difficulty of predicting remdesivir sales.

Shortly before the data of Solidarity was known, the European Union signed with Gilead an agreement of 1,000 million euros (1,200 million dollars) for 500,000 doses of remdesivir at 2,070 euros each.

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