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New COVID-19 Mask Filtration Solution

They say necessity is the mother of invention, something that has been ringing all too true in recent times. The onset of the COVID pandemic has pushed scientists and innovators all over the world to find solutions to what has been the defining healthcare challenge of the 21st Century.

Dr. Isabel Escobar is Professor of Chemical and Materials Engineering at the University of Kentucky, and Associate Director of the U of K Centre of Membrane Sciences. She has spent 20 years working with materials used in water filtration. When the recent demand for PPE skyrocketed globally, Dr. Escobar began to think about how she could use existing water filtration technology to enhance the filtration capabilities of N95 masks.

In conversation with Chiraz Guessaier, Manager CDA Oasis, Dr. Escobar explains the antimicrobial properties of silver nanoparticles used in membrane filters, and how technology she has already developed might be successfully adapted for use in anti-viral masks and air filtration systems in the future. She also outlines how 3D-print design can enhance mask design and fit, and looks forward to a time when materials not only filter contaminants, but destroy them.

We hope you find the conversation useful. We welcome your thoughts, questions and/or suggestions about this post and other topics. Leave a comment in the box below or send us your feedback by email.

Until next time!
Chiraz Guessaier, CDA Oasis Manager

Full Conversation (14.24")


  1. Andrew August 6, 2020

    Sometimes novel solutions have serious and potentially harmful unintended consequences.

    My worries would be
    -further pollution of our environment with nanoparticles;
    -everything we don’t know about their effects on our biology and the biology/ecology of everything that sustains us;
    -nanoparticles immediately in contact with /proximity to lungs/face/skin; nanoparticles only need physical contact and are taken through the skin without regulation, freely pass thru;

    Regardless how well we think that we’ve thought things through, hindsight is always 20/20. Look at the accumulation of “recyclable” plastics, CFL bulb situation, and the developing environmental catastrophe that is Lithium battery powered everything… list is endless with good intentions. Progress is not a straight line but we sure need to do more these days to make it as straight as possible since we have less and less wiggle room for the detours….

    1. CDA Oasis August 10, 2020

      Hello Andrew, Thank you for submitting your comment. The particles that Dr. Escobar is speaking about and using are silver nanoparticles that have been used in other antimicrobial products for a long time. Silver is a natural occuring material and as such, there’s no pollution related issues. Although these Ag nanoparticles have shown some degree of toxicity, they are present in a vast array of pharmaceutical applications. Here’s an article about that: Pharmaceutical aspects of silver nanoparticles: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29231755/
      Thank you again for the comment, I hope this helps,
      CDA Oasis Team

  2. Dr. Larry Stanleigh August 9, 2020

    Dr. Escobar was talking about custom made 3D printed face masks with filter embedded in it. She is in Kentucky, but that is already being done in Canada by the Open Health Solutions people, part of the Aurum Group of Companies. https://www.openhealthsolutions.ca
    A great made in Canada solution (I am not part of this company…just connecting the dots)


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