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Facemask Technologies and Latest Developments

Updated: Dec 4, 2020

The Waterloo Filtration Institute 2020 Annual Conference (WFI 2020) will take place online via Zoom, December 15-16, 2020, 8:00-12:00 am EST. The theme of this conference is “IAQ Health and Safety Solutions Associated with COVID-19”. It will address the critical roles of facemasks and air filtration during the current pandemic for public health and safety. The virtual conference will feature the following four sessions, and we will introduce to you the speakers and their topics in the third session on this issue.

1. Emerging Challenges and Responses

2. IAQ and the Built Environment

3. Facemask Technologies and Latest Developments

4. Facemask/Air Filter Test Methods and Standards

Specifications and Ideal Performance of Masks for Protection against COVID-19 Dr. Peter Tsai, University of Tennessee

The masks used to protect against COVID-19 are cloth, three-fold, and N95. Cloth and three-fold do not have a tight fit, usually called a mask, but N95 does, usually called a respirator. In addition, N95 has a submicron efficiency of 95% or higher based on 42 CFR Part 84. Some three-fold masks like cloth masks do not have specifications for general use. The specifications of medical masks are based on ASTM F2100-19. Electrostatically-charged meltblown microfiber fabrics are commonly used to achieve the specifications of the masks and the respirators. Charges can be retained for longer than ten years. Depending on the charging method, the efficiency can be ten or 20 times improved compared to the uncharged one at the same basis weight and pressure drop. The measured surface charge potential shows that the charged media is a bipolar electret. Therefore, it attracts both positive and negative particles by Columbic force, as well as neutral particles by image force. Several N95 sterilization methods have been validated by NIH, in which some will degrade the charges and/or the shape of the respirators, while others will not. Cloth masks are primarily used to block the virus. Nonwoven media can block and filter the virus. The combination of cloth sandwiched with a nonwoven filter is an ideal design for DIY masks.

Respiratory Filtration Using Nanofibers Dr. Jayesh Doshi, eSpin

COVID-19 has created a massive demand for masks and air filters resulting in a shortfall of nonwoven filtration media all over the world. Nanofibers have become the material of choice for many mask manufacturers as a result of its ability to capture small aerosol drops while providing superior breathability. This presentation will cover nanofiber media production for face masks and air filters to rapid prototyping and manufacturing of masks and respirator filters. Dr. Doshi is the founder of eSpin Technologies. His nanofiber journey started in 1989 at the University of Akron. He has been pursuing nanofiber technology development to commercialization and over the years. He has been instrumental in the development and scale-up of nanofiber production to the conversion of media into products and technology demonstrations. He will answer your questions on nanofibers and their applications in face mask and air filtration applications.

Functionalized Filtration Media

Mr. Joseph Menner, Ascend

Traditional particulate air filtration technology relies on the capture mechanisms of impaction, interception, diffusion as well as electrostatic attraction. Mr. Menner will present a newly developed technology where filter media are constructed with nanofiber and microfiber layers that also possess the build-in ability to inactivate bacterial and viral strains to not only ameliorate this undesirable phenomenon but also potentially reduce the impact of airborne infectious diseases. The fiber formation process is based on a recently granted melt blowing patent that is not related to electrospinning. The technology to inactivate bacterial and viral strains to protect the filter does not utilize chemicals that are detrimental to the environment and is not applied via traditional means such as topical pad-on treatment or polymer compounding. This technology is well suited for applications such as face masks, air filtration, and ventilators. A description of this unique technology as well as the filtration efficiency and bioefficacy performance will be presented.

Pandem-trepreneurship Mr. Mike Atkinson, T3Gear

"It was clear to me in early February what became clear to the general public through Bob Woodward’s latest book. That was that COVID was rapidly getting out of control. At that time it seemed that trying to find some way to participate in the COVID fight was the best use of my company’s efforts. We centred on masks as it was something that we could do and not only participate but also make what I thought would be a big difference. Starting with never having made a mask and knowing nothing about filtration we plunged ahead as my company has some of the most flexible sewing capacity in the U.S. We designed a cut and sewn mask that was the best mask on the market not N95 rated. Had a large number of people had been wearing our mask or a like product in 2020 we could be in an entirely different place on the Pandemic. My talk will follow this journey in much greater depth, identifying the wide variety of villains along the way."


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