An Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi startup has launched an anti-microbial and washable face mask "NSafe", which is reusable up to 50 launderings while greatly cutting down the cost of use.
The masks are available in packs of two and four at a cost of $4 (INR. 299) and $7.7 (INR 589) respectively.
Given the acute shortage of face masks in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, the institute Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) startup "Nanosafe Solutions" believes it has come up with an affordable solution.
Face masks are an important tool to contain transmission from one person to another, according to the developers, but since every individual has been mandated to use a mask regularly, single use masks are not cost-effective for everyone.
The NSafe team is comprised of Dr. Anasuya Roy, an IIT Delhi alumnus, Founder and CEO of Nanosafe Solutions Pvt. Ltd. and Prof. Mangala Joshi, Department of Textile and Fibre Engineering, IIT Delhi and also Founder and Director of the startup.
"NSafe mask is a highly engineered triple-layered product consisting of - inner hydrophilic layer for comfort, middle layer having antimicrobial activity and an outer most layer having water and oil repellent behaviour," Roy said.
He added that the NSafe mask has 99.2% bacterial filtration efficiency (at 3 microns) and complies with ASTM standards of breathability and splash resistance.
The founders claim the mask is extremely comfortable and breathable. An elastic band in the chin region and wire in the nose region fit the mask to the wearer.
“We believe this is the first fabric based antimicrobial face mask launched in India, which is washable and reusable...and tested according to ASTM standards. It is engineered to have very good breathability and comfort,” Joshi said.
He added: “The mask has been designed to maximise durability and dimensional stability, so that the mask can be reused 50 times. Effective reusability is an important factor as single-use masks will cause huge disposal issues,” they said.
Joshi said the NSafe mask enhances protection to the wearer through three different mechanisms: mechanical filtration, antimicrobial decontamination and repulsion of aerosol droplets.
"NSafe masks are dry-cleaned before packaging and packaged under hygienic conditions. After each usage (approximately 8-9 hours), the mask has to be handwashed in cold water with mild detergent and dried thoroughly in the sunlight. After 50 usages, the mask has to be disposed in a sealed polyethylene bag and put in the recyclable waste bin," Joshi said adding that the startup has already started manufacturing the masks
The Indian government has made it mandatory to wear a mask outdoors. Anyone found without it, can fined, cautioned or even sent to jail.