Until 2003 the Cryonics Institute did all patient perfusion in our Procedures Room. Since 2003, however, we have become a licensed cemetery in the State of Michigan. Perfusions must now be done outside of the CI Facility, at the premises of a Funeral Director.
The quality of our perfusions have been improving all the time, however. Since we began using the facilities of the Funeral Director we have begun doing vitrification. And our Funeral Director has mastered surgical skills never before seen in cryonics. (For details, see The Cryonics Institute's 84th Patient .)
For many years CI has conducted research and development in liquid nitrogen storage units, called "cryostats". The result has been a series of new and unique cryostats designed and constructed on our own premises, successfully tested and now operational.
These cryostats are made of different formulations of fiberglass instead of metal, with evacuated perlite for insulation. On balance, for our purposes, they are superior to commercially available units.
In particular they are more rugged, less likely to spring leaks in the vacuum system; if a leak does occur (which so far has never happened), loss of insulation is less pronounced and there is much more time to deal with the problem. There is no need to bake the units periodically to harden the vacuum, requiring transfer of the patients, as may be the case with commercial units.
This is the world's largest human storage cryostat as it looked before completion in September of 1998. It now contains 14 cryonics patients.
Because the unit is rectangular, heavy bracing is necessary to support the air pressure that would tend to press the outer and inner shells together. (There is evacuated perlite between the shells for insulation.)
The covering skin is fiberglass — on the outside, polyester fiberglass treated with fire retardant; on the inside, epoxy fiberglass that can withstand contact with liquid nitrogen. These units are extremely rugged.
This photo shows the newer, cylindrical cryostats.
In January of 2002 we installed a 3,000 gallon bulk storage tank, with vacuum-insulated lines to each individual cryostat. This meant fewer deliveries of nitrogen at lower prices, and also less labor, and a bigger reserve in case there is ever a delay in deliveries. As a result, our liquid nitrogen costs for the older cryostats have been cut about in half, now no more than $500 per patient per year. For the newest cryostats, costs are now below $100 per patient per year.
Liquid nitrogen costs are about a tenth of our total costs, most of which are fixed expenses for facility maintenance, salaries, etc.
Our newer cryostats, a cylindrical design on which we outsourced the fabrication, hold six patients and incorporate an improved design using no bottom supports, as well as a special top made by Andy Zawacki.
A report on cryostat performace and technical details — especially concerning the newer cylindrical cryostats — is available on the website of the Cryonics Institute (CI): Cryostats for Cryogenic Storage
A report on CI's computer controlled cooling boxes can be found on the CI website at: Computer-Controlled Cooling Boxes at CI
For a report on CI's emergency response equipment see: Cryonics Institute New Emergency Response Equipment
For a report on CI Research see: Cryonics Institute Cryobiological Research
For photos in large JPEG and TIFF files for high resolution, see: High-Resolution Photographs for Journalist Use
Another Exterior Shot
Facilities Manager Andy Zawacki
Cryostat for cats and tissue samples