A physics graduate is developing a very effective face mask, if not the best – the N95. Mahesh Bandi who graduated from Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University can make face masks quickly and less expensive compared to other industrial process currently in use, by making use of a cotton candy machine.
This is due to the unique but expensive electrocharged plastic foam filters that characterize an N95 can actually be made by taking lumps of regular plastic from objects like water bottles and shopping bags, heating them to a high temperature, and spinning them in a cotton candy machine until they form a mesh.
The mesh gets electrically charged, which is a major factor that allows them to filter 95% of particles—while it’s spinning around the metal drum of the machine, and can be made more electro-sticky after Bandi cuts the mesh into squares and places them on the vent of an air ionizer.
Making use of microscopic analysis with certified N95 masks reveal that the filters of Bandi prove to be very effective in stopping the inhaling of foreign particles, which includes SARS-CoV-2 viruses.
In the early days of the pandemic, medical experts made clear that cloth masks, homemade or otherwise, or standard surgical masks, were not a very effective method of protection, but that N95s, the masks worn by people who really need to keep their mouth and nose secure, such as asbestos workers, were a seriously effective tool.
The mask design required a 3D-printer to create, and while it’s not clear if the product can be mass-produced, Bandi’s corresponding paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences is a fascinating proof of concept.