Academicians at the Mehran University of Engineering and Technology (MUET), Jamshoro, have developed a mask that they claim can serve as a substitute for the N95 masks that have become scarce in the coronavirus pandemic.
According to Professor Zeeshan Khatri of the textile engineering department MUET, the masks developed at MUET can filter 95% of the bacteria or viruses. MUET’s mask uses nanofiber membranes for filtration and is much cheaper than a regular N95 mask.
The MUET’s mask comprises four layers; nonwoven skincare fabric, nanofiber membrane, nonwoven fabric, and anti-splash coating. There are two variants of the mask; one costs Rs. 95 while the other costs Rs. 120. The mask can be disinfected and reused up to 10 times.
As per Professor Khatri, the size of a coronavirus droplet is somewhere between 150 to 200 nanometers whereas nanofibres are fibers with a diameter of 100 nanometers or less. MUET’s mask effectively blocks particles greater than 100 nanometers, the same as a regular N95.
Professor Khatri and his colleague Professor Farooq Ahmed have launched a startup called “Nanoclo” that has already sold more than 13,000 masks.
1,000 masks are being produced at Nanoclo every day. Soon the daily production capacity will be ramped up to 5,000.
Professor Khatri has sent Nanoclo’s product to the US and Hong Kong for testing as there is no laboratory in Pakistan that can test the masks.
There is no recognized lab for testing bacterial and viral filtration in Pakistan, therefore, the company is sending masks to the United States and Hong Kong-based labs for the tests. We have also sent the masks to TTI lab Lahore and the SGS lab Karachi for evaluation.
Nanoclo will apply for the certification of Pakistan Council of Scientific and Industrial Research in the coming days, said Professor Khatri.