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A Sustainable Alternative to Freezer Bricks

Freezer bricks are going to don the “bad guy” mantle in this article and for good reason. Freezer bricks are a single-use refrigerant product that is widely used in the cold chain. They solve the shape-shifting problem that gel packs have. Freezer bricks contain a foam brick that holds its shape through freeze/thaw cycles, which can be helpful for dimensional consistency in packing out a cold parcel for example. Unfortunately – yes you guessed it – they are terrible for good old mother earth. The brick is composed of open cell phenolic (phenol formaldehyde) foam that is soaked in a PCM or water.

Freezer Brick

Phenolic compounds have been listed by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the European Union (EU) as pollutants of priority concern. This enlistment is due to the fact that these chemicals are noted to be toxic and have severe short‐ and long‐term effects on humans and animals.

Here’s a quick quiz, which of the following impact categories have phenolics (via processing and disposal) been linked to:

Climate Change, Ozone Depletion, Freshwater ecotoxicity, freshwater eutrophication, marine eutrophication, terrestrial eutrophication, acidification, human toxicity (carcinogen), animal toxicity, particulate matter.

Yeah, it’s all of them[1].

Steady on, don't despair. Minus Works has developed a plant-based, biodegradable, non-toxic Cold Pack that can put the Freezer Brick on ice for good. Our new Structured Gel (called M-45STR) is a shape-constant material that will freeze and thaw in its original form. Our Structured Gel has more in common with a solid than a liquid and will not flow.

One of the additional benefits to our Structured Gel is that we are able to produce a fully LEAK-PROOF gel pack. Should the containment film burst or be punctured, the gel will remain fixed in place with no spillage. Request samples and experience it for yourself: cs@minusworks.com.

M-45STR can be supplied as an option for all our existing gel pack products.

For an over-the-top demonstration of “LEAK-PROOF” please give the below video a watch.




[1] Source: “The environmental impact of phenolic foam insulation boards,” Danielle Densley Tingley MEng, PhD, Abigail Hathway MEng, PhD, CEng, MCIBSE, Buick Davison BEng, PhD, CEng, MICE, Dan Allwood BSc, PhD Institute of Civil Engineers Publsihing. Peer reviewed and accepted 12/11/2014