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MIT engineers design a $15 reusable Silicone face mask

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At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the shortage of N95 masks created the worst situation for the healthcare and frontline workers who needed them most and now the same condition emerges when the COVID-19 cases rise to millions, the N95 respirators remain in short supply and to overcome this shortage the engineers and researchers at MIT and Brigham and Women’s Hospital have created a new type of face mask that cost around $15. It is a reusable silicone face mask that could be safely sanitized and reused instead of disposing of.

Giovanni Traverso, an MIT assistant professor of mechanical engineering and a gastroenterologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital said that “One of the key things we recognised early on was that in order to help meet the demand, we needed to restrict ourselves to methods that could scale”. He added, “We also wanted to maximize the reusability of the system and we wanted systems that could be sterilized in many different ways.”

The silicone mask includes an N-95 filter which claims much less N-95 material than the original N-95 mask. As it said earlier that it could be safely sanitized means that it can be reused instead of disposing of. In this silicone mask, there is a space for one or two N-95 filters which are designed to be replaced after every use.

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The researchers test the durability of the Silicon masks by different sterilisation methods like putting them in an oven, running them through steam steriliser and soaking them in bleach and isopropyl alcohol and after all of these, it is found that the silicone material of masks remains unaffected.

In this silicone mask, the new iMASC system is used which stands for ‘Injection Molded Autoclavable, Scalable, Conformable’. According to Adam Wentworth, a research engineer at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, the new mask is more environment friendly which uses less disposable material.

To check the working and feedback of the new mask, 24 healthcare workers including nurses, physician and technicians wore it and said that the mask for well and felt breathable.

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