Cambridge dry ice company plays big role in vaccine supply chain

BOSTON — The crew at Acme Dry Ice in Cambridge is busy with no days off.

“We work seven days a week just trying [to] keep ahead of what’s going on out there,” said owner Marc Savenor, who has owned the business for 42 years.

He said the demand is sky-high for dry ice, mostly from pharmaceutical companies working on coronavirus vaccines. Most customers are in Massachusetts, but not all.

“We are delivering all over the country so it’s a challenge. Some of these places here have places in different parts of the country, which aren’t able to get it right now with California having all those fires and having three counties shutdown with electricity,” he said.

Some potential vaccines will likely require dry ice for transportation. They will have to be kept extremely cold so they don’t spoil. Dry ice is the solid form of carbon dioxide, which hovers around 110-degrees below zero.

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Even though there is a big shortage of CO2 around the country, business is brisk at Acme Dry Ice. They’re selling between 50,000 and 100,000 pounds of dry ice per day. That is more than pre-pandemic.

Savenor believes his small company plays a critical role in the vaccine supply chain.

“Keeping people cool and saving lives, because that’s exactly what we’re doing right now,” Savenor said.

Savenor added that he’s now starting to see an increase in the supply of dry ice. He said the shortage was because the production of carbon dioxide, used for making dry ice, was way down over the spring and summer.

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