IIT Kanpur developing 'swadeshi' face mask amid coronavirus outbreak
The team is working on developing an indigenous face mask, which is equivalent to the most commonly used N95 mask
The non-woven polypropylene mask based on 3-4 layer material is expected to offer the most effective protection against coronavirus
Amid a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect against the spreading coronavirus, a team of researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur (IIT-K), is developing a protective mask for frontline medical staff and common man alike.
The team is working on developing an indigenous face mask, which is equivalent to the most commonly used N95 mask.
Professor Tarun Gupta, IIT Kanpur, Civil Engineering department, said there was high demand for the N95 masks leading to its shortage for doctors, nurses and other health workers.
“Our team is developing the material for the ‘swadeshi’ face mask, which is better than N95 and is made available for mass scale production in the country to cater the high demand,” he said.
Gupta said N95 masks were largely being imported at steep prices, while there was challenge for ensuring their availability in the current circumstances.
The team of researchers comprises Prof Gupta, Prof J Ramkumar, Prof Saumyen Guha and IIT alumnus Sandip Patil.
The non-woven polypropylene mask based on 3-4 layer material is expected to offer the most effective protection against coronavirus and offering much lower resistance to air passage.
The researches have set up a filter testing rig, which is equipped with aerosol laser spectrometer. Gupta said the testing facility had been set up with limited resources, yet the results so far had been encouraging.
“We will be testing 10-15 different types of materials, some of which have been developed by our researchers, for the face mask and the final results would be known in a couple of days,” he added.
Recently, the central government had turned to the premier research institutions, including the IITs, for tech-enabled solutions to deal with the outbreak.
On March 30, union HRD secretary Amit Khare held a video conference with the directors of the various IITs and urged them to come up with roadmaps to combat the coronavirus and related medical exigencies related to the pandemic.
Last month, IIT Kanpur had announced that it would provide free online tutorials in Python to universities worldwide. Python is an interpreted high-level general-purpose programming language. The free online support would be provided through Prutor.ai, a proprietary suite developed at IIT-K.
Prutor, which offers specialised online courses, has already been adopted by IIT Mumbai, IIT Goa, IIT Madras and other leading institutions for teaching coding.
“Prutor.ai is a technology that is not available anywhere else, and IIT Kanpur would be happy to provide it to any university and college willing to adopt it. We want to teach coding to as many students as possible. If any company can share CSR funds then we can help accelerate this,” Dr Amey, who developed Prutor, said.
The Institute offered to make available lectures in indi and English to any college or university on request.