Researchers develop approach to make N95 masks last longer

A Purdue University research team is working on extending the shelf life for an N95 mask, a crucial piece of personal protective equipment (PPE), by making the elastic band last longer.

By Chris Adam June 23, 2020

Purdue University research team has come up with an approach to extend the shelf life for an N95 mask, which is one of the pieces of personal protective equipment (PPE) being used by health care and other essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Purdue innovators developed a technique that focuses on the elastic band that attaches to the front of the mask. The Purdue team’s approach is designed to extend the shelf life and the individual fit of the mask.

“The shelf life for an N95 mask is primarily affected by the elastic band holding the mask together, since the elastic disintegrates after a certain period of time,” said Hersh Rai, a graduate student at Purdue in computer and information technology. “We designed a way to create the masks using the same filter material on the front, but with different materials for the band and with novel attachment locations and methods.”

“We took our expertise in design and applied it to help fix a problem affecting the frontline workers during this pandemic,” said Nicholas Toan-Nang Vu, a graduate student at Purdue in mechanical engineering.

The team created several design options that work with elastic or different materials that can be attached to the front of the mask in different ways to allow the band materials to be swapped out so the mask can last longer. The designs provide more attachment points for the band materials, which allow for a more secure fit without contaminating the front material.

Author Bio: Chris Adam, Purdue University