Oak Ridge National Laboratory researchers and collaborators from Iowa State University and industrial forensics company RJ Lee Group have demonstrated a safe and effective antiviral coating for N95 masks that destroys the COVID-19-causing coronavirus and could enable reuse of masks made from various fabrics.
The team's findings were e-published on March 8 by Materials Today Advances. The research was supported by the Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science through the National Virtual Biotechnology Laboratory (NVBL), a consortium of DOE national laboratories focused on response to COVID-19, with funding provided by the Coronavirus CARES Act and Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Advanced Manufacturing Office.
The investigators evaluated Goldshield 75, finding that the patented product effectively killed the novel coronavirus without degrading mask fibers and showed no toxicity. The antimicrobial coating technology was originally introduced in 2009 by Long Island-based Goldshield Technologies to help reduce hospital-acquired-infections.
Coated masks were germ-free 24 hours after virus exposure even over repeated test cycles and after high-temperature storage.
The work builds on technology developed at the DOE Carbon Fiber Technology Facility at ORNL as part of efforts to mass produce mask filtration material using existing melt blowing equipment typically used for carbon fiber production.
“We explored avenues to integrate effective antiviral coatings that are safe for the wearer and the environment,” said ORNL’s Parans Paranthaman.
“The long-term goal is to develop filter media with a built-in coating, which may also be useful in other applications, such as air filters for hospitals, or in combating other pathogens,” said ORNL’s Merlin Theodore.