Indian Institue of Technology (IIT) Mandi, research scholars have come up with a face mask more efficient than N95, using nonwoven fabric derived from waste plastic bottles.
The brainchild of IIT’s School of Engineering assistant professor Dr. Sumit Sinha and two research scholars Sheshang Singh Chandel and Ashish Kakoria, the indigenous technology can make facemasks cheaper than the N95 while being on-par with protection.
To make the mask, waste plastic water bottles are used to derive a single thin layer of nano-nonwoven membrane that will be further used to create the desired particle filtration, as good as a medical-grade facemask, Times of India reports.
The single thin layered nano-nonwoven fabric is 250 times thinner than a single strand of hair and lab tests have confirmed one layer of such fine membrane is 98% efficient at removing particles as microscopic as 0.3 microns in diameter from the air.
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The efficiency of a facemask to provide protection from viruses is marked by the capacity to veer off viruses that are among the tiniest particles known to science. A surgical grade N95 mask is designed to filter very small particles. On e-commerce sites like Amazon, a piece of N95 can retail anywhere from Rs.400-600 ($ 5.30-7.95) plus per piece. But this new IIT invention has been able to achieve much lesser per-piece-cost (Rs. 25/ $ 0.33) in the lab, and the makers claim the price will further fall while large scale manufacturing.
According to Dr. Sumit Sinha, their product is very efficient in delivering the best possible breathability and protection at the same time. He notes the commercially available generic three-ply masks are breathable but can hardly protect from tiny particles.
While the melt-blown fabric medical-grade masks deliver the best protection but at the cost of breathing resistance. But, nano-fibers-based masks can filter out small particles efficiently despite being comfortably breathable,” Dr. Sinha says.
The same Technology school also developed an Ultraviolet-C (UV-C) light-based portable disinfection box to disinfect plastic, metal, and cardboard products to minimize coronavirus risk at a price of Rs 35,000 ($ 463.92) only.
Indian IIT’s are known for their technological innovation and standard of education across the world. Starting from ink derived from diesel to a laptop that can run low-intensity apps at a price of Rs. 6000 ($79.53), they’ve made a lot of seemingly impossible stuff possible. They even made a driver-less hybrid bicycle for the disabled back in 2016.
(Cover image for representational purpose only)