A reusable, rechargeable mask that uses heat to kill traces of the virus could be a game-changer in the COVID-19 personal protection market, Israeli researchers say.
Many countries around the world have made mask-wearing mandatory in the wake of COVID-19, leading to an uptick in the use and disposal of cheap but unsustainable masks.
Israeli researchers, concerned about the environmental impact of face-masks, say they have come up with the perfect solution and created a rechargeable mask that uses heat to kill germs and can be used over, and over again.
Technion University’s lead researcher Professor Yair Ein-Eli says he hopes the new self-cleaning mask will save lives and the environment.
“The medical world was always moving towards non-reusable or disposable but when you have a crisis that you need five billion masks in 2020, in 2021 worldwide, five billion, you have to realise that this is not economic or environmentally friendly. Not at all,” Ein-Eli explained.
“You have to make it reusable and friendly and this is our solution,” the inventor said.
The prototype looks like a standard N95 face mask but has an in-built layer of carbon fibres that, when plugged in to a USB port, heat to 70 degrees Celsius.
The heat is enough to kill the virus and disinfect the mask, and is too hot for it to be worn during the 30 minute disinfection process, the research team warns. The freshly disinfected mask is then ready to protect the user from COVID-19 and other airborne diseases.
The Israeli researchers submitted a US patent in late March, while still in talks with the private sector, expect the auto-cleaning masks will retail at around $1 more than your regular disposable face mask.