Indian Scientists Develop Self-Disinfecting, Biodegradable Face Masks To Combat COVID-19

by Swarajya Staff - Feb 4, 2022 05:26 PM +05:30 IST
Indian Scientists Develop Self-Disinfecting, Biodegradable Face Masks To Combat COVID-19Pic Via PIB

A team of Indian scientists in collaboration with an industry partner have developed a self-disinfecting ‘Copper-based Nanoparticle-coated' Antiviral Face Mask to fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

The mask exhibits high performance against the COVID 19 virus as well as several other viral and bacterial infections. Further, the mask is biodegradable, highly breathable and washable.

Public mask wearing is most effective in reducing the spread of the virus COVID-19 caused by SARS-CoV-2, an enveloped positive sense single-stranded RNA virus, where the mode of transmission is via respiratory particles that are mainly airborne, the Science and Technology Ministry said in a release.

With the science around the use of masks to impede transmission is advancing rapidly, the Indian market is selling expensive masks that neither exhibit antiviral nor antibacterial properties, the ministry said.\

Hence, it is very difficult to control the transmission by wearing the conventional mask particularly in densely populated places like hospitals, airports, stations, shopping malls, where the virus load is very high.

In the present scenario, where mutations in coronavirus causing the COVID-19 pandemic are fast emerging, it is an urgent necessity to develop a low-cost antiviral mask, it added.

"Scientists at International Advanced Research Centre for Powder Metallurgy and New Materials (ARCI), an autonomous R&D Centre of Department of Science and Technology (DST in collaboration with the Centre for Cellular & Molecular Biology (CSIR-CCMB) and Resil Chemicals, a Bengaluru based company have developed the self-disinfecting ‘Copper-based Nanoparticle-coated Antiviral Face Masks’ under the DST sponsored Nano-Mission project, to fight against the COVID-19 pandemic," the ministry said.

ARCI developed copper-based nanoparticles of around 20 nanometres by a Flame Spray Pyrolysis (FSP) processing facility. FSP process involves conversion of solution precursors into nanopowders by high temperature pyrolytic decomposition.

Stable nanoparticle suspension were obtained by optimizing the solid loading and pH.

A uniform layer of this nano-coating on the cotton fabric with good adhesion was achieved using a suitable binder. The coated fabric exhibited an efficacy of more than 99.9 per cent against bacteria.

CSIR-CCMB tested the efficacy of this fabric against SARS-CoV-2 for their disinfection properties and reported 99.9 per cent disinfection, the ministry said.

Prototype masks having different designs such as single layer and triple layers with nanoparticle coated fabric as outer layer have been demonstrated. A single layer mask is especially useful as a protective antiviral outer mask over a regular mask.

These masks are now being produced by Bengaluru-based Resil Chemicals on a large scale.

According to the ministry, the present-day face masks only retain the viruses by filtering and do not kill them and hence, are prone to transmission if the masks are not properly worn or disposed.

Simple multi-layer cloth masks present a pragmatic solution for use by the public in reducing COVID-19 transmission in the community and wearing these self-disinfecting cloth masks is definitely one of them, it added.

Additionally, a huge concern is expressed around the globe regarding the disposal of used masks. Most of the conventional masks effective against COVID-19 are for single-use and are not bio-degradable, creating serious environmental concerns and waste-management issues.

he present antiviral mask which is made from cotton fabric that is biodegradable would eliminate that problem too besides making it highly breathable and washable, the ministry said.

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