COVID-19: VACCINE WATCH

BYU nanofiber technology making more effective face masks

Oct 21, 2020, 1:18 PM | Updated: 6:42 pm

PROVO, Utah– New technology from the BYU engineering department can help protect against COVID-19 through the traditional face masks.

A team of engineers created a new filter by electrospinning nanofibers. The fibers have an electric charge that attracts COVID-19 particles.

When they placed the filter inside the cloth pieces of a homemade face mask, it made the mask as effective or more than the N95 masks used by healthcare professionals.

BYU Mechanical Engineering senior Katie Varela says N95 face masks means they are 95% effective at filtering the particles. Typical cloth masks might block around 50% of virus particles.

“We’ve gotten in the range of 95 to 99 with recent tests that we’ve done,” she said about their filter.

The cloth masks with the filter still allow for the circulation of air, water and heat.

“This material is great for masks because it is excellently breathable. Current N95 masks are hot, and hard to breathe through,” said Nanos Foundation Director Will Vahle. “You can have the best mask in the world but if you won’t wear it because it’s uncomfortable, it’s worthless.”

The group plans to make the instructions open source…so that it will become easier to get it to the public.

Related: Utah County drop mask mandate but masks still required most places

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