Researchers at Central Building Research Institute (CBRI) in Roorkee have developed a battery-powered Smart Face Mask (SFM) for the manpower deployed on a building construction site.
In the dust-filled environment of any construction site, it gives relief to those manpower suffering with asthma, lung infections or other pulmonary diseases to the extent of a healthy and safe breathing.
Researchers associated with this project claimed that development of this type of mask is the first of its kind, SFM gives pure air for breathing purpose to the user as it has multi-levels filtration including electrostatic, HEPA and Laser arrangements attached with the device.
Though, some SFMs of branded companies like Siemens, Philips, LG, Razer Zephr etc generally used by medics are available in the market but its range and capacity in giving a “treated” breathable air to the user are less than developed SFM. Whereas branded SFMs are very expensive with a price of of thousands rupees but contrary to these, it is a cheap product of within price range of Rs 700 to 1,000.
“We have patented our product. If our product is manufactured at a mass level, the price of it goes down to an affordable three-digit figure” said Dr Anuj Kumar Chauhan, principal inventor of the product.
There are two main parts of the invented mask, SFM. In the first part of SFM, a mask, which has three holes, covers the mouth and nose fully. There are two holes in the mask opposite to each other while third is on top of the mask beneath the nose.
The left side hole is covered with a polypropylene-based filter whereas its opposite (right) side hole is connected with an active air filtration (AAF) unit through a piece of rubber tube. This AAF unit, who is a home of four-staged filters, a blower, sensor and a battery with charging circuit, has a hook fixed outside their body to be hanged with the collar of user’s shirt.
As user inhales air for breathing, left-side pre-filter prevents large dust particles and this air goes to AAF units to pass through a four-staged filters ie pre-filter, electrostatic filter, HEPA filter and activated carbon filter. In four-staged filtration arrangement, its pre-filter prevent again dust particles after that electrostatic filter kills bacteria and viruses and synthetic fiber-based HEPA filter then prevents particulate matter like PM2.5 to PM 10 and other irritating allergens from the air.
The activated carbon filter does the work of air and gas purification. It removes the pollutants, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and odours from air and detects and absorbs radon and works as an Ozone killer in the air. Third hole, for exhale of discharged air, keeps a LASER-reflector arrangement which again minimize the effect of viruses and bacteria.
The SFM does not allow to increase moisture level surrounding the mouth and nose, which makes user’s specs blurry, as it reduces CO2 level in discharged air with the help of corbon filter and blower. Besides, the mask body is easily disinfected with a soap wash and battery of AAF is easily charged with the help of a mobile charger.
“In our SFM, pre-filter is 1 mm thin which has porosity of 10 to 20 microns with an efficiency of 90 percent. HEPA filter has porosity of 0.3 micron with an efficiency of almost 100 percent. And the carbon filter of 1.5 mm thickness is the porosity of 0.5 micron with efficiency of over 99 percent. Whereas, in laser-reflector arrangement, an infrared rays ranging from 600-10,000 nm kill many bacteria and airborne viruses. In market available face masks, such capacity is missing from them,” claimed Chauhan.
Tapan Susheel is a journalist who writes for Times of India