Taiwan university introduces machine to prolong mask life

Invention utilizes atmospheric-pressure plasma to kill bacteria on masks

NTUST's new invention able to kill bacteria on surgical masks. (NTUST photo)

NTUST's new invention able to kill bacteria on surgical masks. (NTUST photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A research team from the National Taiwan University of Science and Technology (NTUST) has created a machine that can extend the use of face masks once the new semester begins.

As the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to infect individuals around the world, many Taiwanese worry that their mask supply will not last much longer. Health professionals have also warned against reusing masks since bacteria or viruses may still be on the surface from the day before, increasing the likelihood of self-inoculation.

The NTUST research team, led by Mechanical Engineering professor Joseph Kuo (郭俞麟), was able to combine atmospheric-pressure plasma technology with automation equipment to create a mask-cleaning machine. Once in operation, the machine will automatically prolong the masks' usefulness by sanitizing them for 10 seconds.

Kuo pointed out that every Taiwan resident is currently limited to receiving two masks per week, which means that each mask has to be used for approximately three days. He added that the machine allows the masks to stay fresh and will not damage the structure of the masks until after the ninth or tenth sanitization, reported UDN.

The members of the research team emphasized that atmospheric-pressure plasma is often used by hospitals to sanitize expensive machines and that they are delighted to incorporate the advanced technology into their invention. They are also thankful to have the opportunity to make a contribution to Taiwanese society.

The machine will be available to students and faculty members every afternoon for two hours once NTUST resumes classes on Monday (Mar. 2). Students are also advised not to clean masks that are more than two days old, according to Radio Taiwan International.

National Taiwan University of Science and Technology. (Wikipedia photo)