University of Maryland experts develop mask alternative for prolonged use


A team of researchers from the University of Maryland (UMD) is developing a new type of personal protective equipment (PPE) that is much more comfortable than a surgical mask or an N95 ventilator. The solution is designed to benefit workers, who currently face the discomfort and inconvenience of wearing masks for hours on end.

COLLEGE PARK, Md., October 1, 2021 / PRNewswire-PRWeb / – A team of researchers from University of Maryland (UMD) is developing a new type of personal protective equipment (PPE) that is much more comfortable than a surgical mask or an N95 ventilator. The solution is designed to benefit workers, who currently face the discomfort and inconvenience of wearing masks for hours on end.

As an alternative, a UMD team led by a professor of mechanical engineering Jelena srebric designs a solution in which a micro air filter provides a constant flow of purified air to the user while creating an invisible air shield that can block ambient particles that could carry the virus that causes COVID-19.

The project is funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as part of a program that supports research designed to help communities respond to public health emergencies such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the approach developed by Srebric and his colleagues, the glasses are equipped with an air circulation system that includes a micro fan and a high efficiency particulate filter (HEPA) to capture airborne particles. . The device also includes a sensor that measures micro-pressure, CO2, humidity and temperature, allowing the device to be calibrated for a tight but comfortable fit. The device can be sterilized with ultraviolet light at the end of each day of use.

“The system is designed to alleviate the discomfort and breathing difficulties that many people experience when wearing masks or ventilators for long periods of time,” Srebric said.

“One of the main problems with currently available portable devices, such as masks, is that they rely on the user’s lungs to push air against the filter surfaces. Over time, this puts a lot of pressure on the user and leads to discomfort. Our system solves this problem by including a micro fan. It provides continuous local airflow and self-controls to make sure the pressure is at the right level, ”she said.

Srebric, an internationally recognized expert in ventilation, has focused much of her research over the past year on responding to the public health challenges posed by COVID-19. With colleagues from University of Colorado, she led a study that identifies ways to resume live musical performances, safely. In the 2020 presidential election, she collaborated with University of Maryland professor of public health Donald milton by designing a simple and inexpensive solution that can protect against virus transmission during debates and other public events. It has also contributed to the development of air filtration systems for public transport. Srebric heads the Center for Sustainability in the Built Environment (City @ UMD), which conducts research related to urban public health.

In addition to Srebric, the team working on the CDC-funded PPE project includes Milton, an associate research professor of mechanical engineering at UMD. Shengwei Zhu, and professor of civil and environmental engineering at UMD Birthe Kjellerup.

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The A. James Clark School engineering at the University of Maryland serves as a catalyst for high quality research, innovation and learning, delivering on the promise that all graduates will leave ready to make an impact on the Grand Challenges of the 21st century. The Clark School is dedicated to leading and transforming the discipline and profession of engineering, accelerating entrepreneurship, and transforming research and learning activities into new innovations that benefit millions of people.

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Robert Herschbach, A. James Clark School engineering, 410-245-8959, [email protected]

SOURCE A. James Clark School engineering


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