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An innovative type of face mask that can disinfect itself should be ready for market in spring at the latest. It was developed at Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW) together with Osmotex, a company based in Thalwil in the canton of Zurich. At the moment, it is being optimized by three research groups from the ZHAW Institute of Chemistry and Biotechnology. They have already proven that it is safe and harmless to use. 

Chahan Yeretzian, a chemist at the ZHAW, is quoted as saying: “After documenting the efficacy of the electrochemical technology with a study in the summer of 2020, we are now working to optimize this technology for sterile face masks and to make it suitable for everyday use.” It should be ready for market in spring at the latest.

These face masks consist of a special, multilayered material, electrodes, and a voltage source. Thanks to an integrated battery that can be charged up via a USB cable, a few volts of electricity are created at the touch of a button. This creates reactive oxygen molecules that reliably destroy viruses and bacteria. This means that the mask can even be sterilized while it is being worn.

Project Lead Sebastian Opitz explains: “Depending on the voltage and the composition of the textile, we can achieve virus deactivation of over 99 percent.” This means that the efficacy can also be specifically adapted depending on the area of use. In addition to face masks, another potential use could be in sterilizable seat covers, for example for public transport, hotels, and offices. Yeretzian adds that electrochemical sterilization could potentially “even be an answer to the growing issue of multidrug-resistant pathogens in hospitals.”

The project has access to a budget of 1.7 million Swiss francs. Innosuisse, the Swiss Innovation Agency, has contributed 902,000 Swiss francs.

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