After the recent innovation of cost-effective and faster testing kits for Covid-19 by Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) Hyderabad, here is yet another innovation that promises to recharge and reuse you N95 masks. This low-cost mask is likely to change the very face of people using N95 masks in the country.
The Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) Hyderabad researchers have developed a low-cost rechargeable N95 mask. They have achieved this by modifying one of the layers of the standard N95 mask with the use of a graphene oxide-based paint. The mask is reusable multiple times after standard decontamination procedures without losing its efficiency, according to a press release from TIFR Hyderabad on Thursday.
"While the fibres of the mask pose as a mechanical barrier, an electrostatic charge on the surface of the mask traps particles. With usage, the electrostatic charge on the N95 masks erodes away, thus, decreasing the filtering efficiency of the mask. To address this bottleneck, researchers in TIFR Hyderabad have developed a low-cost rechargeable N95 mask," a statement from TIFR reads.
The mask is reusable after standard decontamination procedures without losing its efficiency. It can be recharged with small movements such as the movement of the jaw.
The Institute said the N95 masks capture and filter out particles (size ~0.3 microns) with 95 per cent efficiency. While the fibres of the mask pose as a mechanical barrier, an electrostatic charge on the surface of the mask traps particles. With usage, the electrostatic charge on the N95 masks erodes away, thus, decreasing the filtering efficiency of the mask. It was to address this bottleneck that the researchers of TIFR Hyderabad developed the low-cost rechargeable N95 mask, it said.
The research led by Dr G Rajalakshmi and Prof TN Narayanan along with graduate students Stelbin Peter Figerez and Sudeshna Patrastate states that such a simple modification in existing mask designs enabling their rechargeability via external mechanical disturbances will be highly beneficial in the modern era of indispensable personal protective equipment.
The TIFR said the researchers have also built a simple device for testing the quality of mask materials. The device, developed in-house, uses low cost, easily available sensors in the Indian market. It measures the transmission of aerosols and particles of size down to 0.3 microns through the mask material, it said, adding that presently, the team with the support of engineer Aathif Ahmed was working towards developing a user-friendly, standard mask testing device.