New mask design for Oxford makes it low-cost and high efficiency


Even though the vaccine drives are in full steam across the world, many countries are seeing a slow rise in the positive cases yet again. This could mainly be as people are slowly becoming lax to the certain safety protocols in public, especially in ensuring to wear their masks at all times in public.

While the vaccines are here, the coronavirus could still wreak havoc if the public do not take necessary precautions, as the virus is going to be around for a long time. That is why, it is time we start considering masks as essential wear than just a piece of temporary protection equipment.

In that regard, many scientists are coming up with interesting studies in developing more effective masks.

In a new paper published by Oxford University Press, it presents a slightly modified N95 masks that provide a lasting effectiveness and improve reusability post disinfectants.

The Covid-19 crisis has increased demand for respiratory masks, with various models of DIY masks becoming popular alongside the commercially available N95. The utility of such masks is primarily based on the size of aerosols that they are capable of filtering out and how long they can do so effectively.

The usual N95 masks have an efficiency rate of 95 percent. However, the effectiveness drops each as the wearer uses it more often, because, the N95’s were originally designed for single use.

Due to the high demand caused by COVID-19, the reusability of mask has become a necessity. So, a team of scientists have put together various techniques for decontamination and reuse of respiratory masks based on experimental data and guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control.

Researchers here propose a low-cost (USD 1), tri-layer mask design containing nylon, modified polypropylene, and non-woven cotton fabrics.

While the polypropylene layer is available in N95 masks, this design includes a graphene oxide and polyvinylidene fluoride mixture which acts as an active filtration layer.

This coating has also proven to be effective even after being disinfected with H2O2, a popular practice when reusing masks. The addition of these membranes results in an efficiency level of 95 percent, like that of an N95, while also simplifying the number of layers in the design for increased comfort.

“The possibility to produce cost-effective reusable N95 masks that can help the public health system and common citizens motivated the work. We tried to leverage the connection between electrostatic charge and the filtration efficiency of masks for submicron size particles and viruses to come up with a design to make N95 masks reusable,” said Dr Rajalakshmi.