LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Production has begun on new University of Louisville-developed N95-style face masks that are low-cost, washable, reusable, and could be better at filtering COVID-19 droplets and other airborne particles and viruses. The masks now are commercially available.
The production facility, operated by AdhviQ Technologies LLC, opened in late November on the UofL Belknap campus. It now churns out about 50 of the N95-style masks, plus about 100 three-ply non-surgical masks per minute as well as filters for cloth masks, and has made them commercially available. The company plans to ramp up production amid rising coronavirus case numbers.
Mahendra Sunkara, Ph.D., said he and other UofL researchers invented the masks to address , or PPE. While commonly worn disposable masks are meant , the UofL N95-style masks are unique in that their nanowire-woven fabric can be washed and reused multiple times — all while still filtering down to 0.1 microns.
The technology was created by researchers at UofL’s Conn Center for Renewable Energy Research, where Sunkara is director, and the UofL Advanced Manufacturing Institute of Science & Technology (AMIST). Early in the pandemic, they pivoted from their previous studies in areas such as solar power and robotics to develop tools that could help people stay safe.