Delft University of Technology and Utrecht-based Van Straten Medical have developed and tested a procedure to sterilize mouth masks. This allows the masks to be reused up to five times. The procedure is suitable to be applied immediately and on a large scale, which could save up to 100,000 masks a day in Europe alone.
The demand for mouth masks due to the corona crisis is causing scarcity. Local healthcare institutions requested Van Straten Medical to adapt the sterilization procedure, as the company owns the same type of sterilization unit that most hospitals have. The normal procedure damages the masks. However, at lower temperatures and longer duration, they remain intact.
A biomedical researcher from TU Delft used a particle counter to verify the filtering capacity of the sterilized masks. He saw no deterioration, even after five sterilization cycles. Hospital sterilization experts still need to decide whether the procedure is safe enough, taking other factors into account.