Researchers Develop a Reusable Face Mask that Kills Viruses with a USB Charger
Researchers in Haifa, Israel, have created what they believe is a reusable face mask that kills harmful particles by heating itself up with a smartphone charger.
It’s been pretty incredible how quickly the scientific community has acted during the COVID-19 pandemic. New developments that sometimes take years have happened in weeks. This has included much more than just understanding the virus itself, which has influenced how we go about our daily lives. There has also been constant development in PPE capabilities.
Part of that has been related to the importance of face masks to mitigate the spread of the disease, and researchers have been trying to find ways to kill the virus on impact as well as minimize waste by creating masks that are safe to reuse.
Reuters reported that the mask, created by a team at Technion University in Haifa, connects to a power source using a USB port and heats an inner layer of carbon fibers to 158 degrees Fahrenheit, which is hot enough to kill viruses.
— Reuters (@Reuters) June 17, 2020
In addition to the self-cleaning factor, the researchers took waste management into account.
“You have to make it reusable and friendly,” Prof. Yair Ein-Eli, leader of the research team, told Reuters. “And this is our solution.”
An infectious disease expert at Jerusalem’s Hadassah Medical Center confirmed that there was “no question” that a half hour of exposure to that temperature would kill the coronavirus, but voiced his concerns over the longevity of the mask’s construction.
“[Heating could] damage the mask’s paper or fabric, and spoil its ability to protect from diseases in the future,” he told Reuters.
However, the team in Haifa said that the prototype was exposed to 20 heating cycles for a half hour each time, and there were no effects on the mask’s durability.
“We can guarantee it up to a few dozen cycles without any risk,” Ein-Eli said.
It looks like an N95 mask, but it has a vent in the front, which could be problematic, after locations in California prohibited the use of valved face masks. The problem with the valve is that while it limits particles from passing through the mask, it doesn’t keep anything from escaping. This means that if someone carrying COVID-19 goes out, particles from their breath could still pass through onto surfaces and other people.
The Israeli researchers submitted a patent for the mask in the U.S. in March, however, and are hopeful they can start selling it soon.