MIT Engineers Design Reusable Face Mask

Wednesday, July 22, 2020 - 11:01
new mask

Engineers and researchers at MIT and Brigham and Women’s Hospital have a created a new type of face mask that in a laboratory setting, the prototype worked as well as a N95 respirator at filtering out virus-containing particles.

The new MIT mask is made from silicone, with slots for just two small, disposable disks of the N95 material (which serve as filters). That means the masks themselves can be quickly and easily sterilized and reused, and though the small filters must be thrown out, each mask requires much less N95 material, CNBC reports.

The new iMASC system, which stands for Injection Molded Autoclavable, Scalable, Conformable, can also be sterilized a few different ways without sacrificing its effectiveness, the researchers wrote in a paper published in the British Medical Journal Open. For example, researchers were able to use a steam sterilizer on the masks, put the masks in an oven, as well as soak them in both bleach and rubbing alcohol. (Treating used N95 masks with hydrogen peroxide disinfectants to neutralize any viruses requires special equipment and takes a few days. It also only allows the masks to be re-worn for one day at a time, up to 20 more times.)

The new mask could also be more environmentally-friendly — it uses less disposable material, which produces much less waste than tossing a whole mask, Adam Wentworth, a research engineer at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and a research affiliate at the Koch Institute, said in a press release.

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