MIT professors developing masks with reusable filters, battery power to fight COVID-19

CAMBRIDGE, MASS. (WHDH) - Researchers at MIT are developing new masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19, using battery-powered heat and removable filters to stop the virus.

Assistant Professor Dr. Giovanni Traverso said the mask he’s developed is equally as protective as the N95 masks, but uses reusable filters.

“These filters pop out and so these can be thrown out but the mask itself and everything else gets re-sterilized, and you can put clean filters in,” Traverso said.

Traverso, who developed the TEAL Bio face masks with Brigham and Women’s Hospital, said the masks also better conform to the user’s face, and the clear rubber base allows people to see the mask-wearer’s mouth to allow for better communication.

Another MIT professor is developing a face mask that he says will destroy the virus, using a nine-volt battery to heat the mask and kill the virus before the wearer breathes it in.

“Instead of blocking and inhibiting airflow, it just lets the virus in but deactivates it, but destroys it,” said Dr. Michael Strano.

And Strano said if the mask wearer is infected the virus would also be destroyed when it’s exhaled into the mask. He said that could make a big difference for passengers on an airplane.

“The air you’re breathing out is can be close to sterilized and the air you breathe in, you’re breathing in air where if there’s any virus it’s essentially killed or deactivated,” Strano said. “So you make others safe and you yourself are safe.”

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