Since the inception of the Coronavirus-led pandemic, we have seen a huge increase in the demand for face masks. With millions of frontline workers using N95 masks to protect themselves, at one point, there was a shortage of these masks all around the world. So, two researchers from Israel and India have developed an N95 mask that can be “recharged” to keep its effectiveness intact.
Researchers from Technion-IIT in Israel and the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in India aim to deliver protective N95 masks that users can “recharge” to reuse them with full effectiveness again and again.
Now, unlike generic face masks, we all know that N95 masks are the most protective ones as these can catch really tiny particles in the air using a matrix of microscopic fibers and electrostatic filtering. Although these fibers remain intact over time, the electrostatic charge fades away, making the masks ineffective with time.
So, to solve this particular issue, the researchers, Dov Levine and Shankar Ghosh developed a way to charge up the filter of an N95 mask to bring back the electrostatic charge, after it fades away. They took out the filter from the mask and placed it between two plate electrodes. Then they applied a strong electric field to the filter bring back the electrostatic charge in it.
Following this experiment, the researcher-duo published an official paper in the “Physics of Fluids” journal. And according to them, the N95 mask that they used in the experiment became as effective as it was when it was new.
Currently, the way to recharge the mask involves disassembling the mask to get the filter out and then follow the recharging process. However, the researchers are working to develop a mask that will be able to recharge itself by using a built-in battery.
Now clearly the “rechargeable” N95 mask will not be making its way to the end-users tomorrow or the next week. However, when it becomes user-ready, it will surely make a difference and reduce wastage of unusable face masks drastically.
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