Matt Carney: The disposable respirator, we've been learning is in short supply, and so the
goal here was not to reinvent the wheel, but to source alternative media that could also
satisfy the filtration requirements.
My name is Matt Carney and welcome to my front porch (laughs)
What we’re trying to do right now is build a reusable, N95 alternative mask.
So that is a mask that is actually a respirator, so tight-fitting, fits around your face, and
can actually have all the protections of an N95 mask.
So that means it has a nice seal around your face, it is comfortable to wear for long periods
of time, and it has a replaceable filter in it.
So you can sterilize and reuse the mask portion, and then just swap out the filter as necessary.
Fundamentally, we kind of approached this from a different point of view, which was
we really wanted to build something that scales, and so we really wanted to leverage manufacturing
processes that do scale.
But also a process that you can rely on to go through regulatory processes.
As soon as we started diving into this, and really trying to understand what are the governmental
rules for how to accomplish this, we realized that those safety rules are actually very
hard to hit.
Very early on we started building prototypes that we were sending to get tested at a NIOSH
facility, that could test the breathability.
So, inhale/exhale, pressure drop or breathing resistance, as well as residual CO2.
And that is, that as you exhale, you breathe out a bunch of CO2, and if there’s dead space between your
face and the mask, when you re-inhale that you’re re-inhaling CO2, so you’re not
getting as much oxygen as you would expect.
And then there are some additional ASTM standards that are also testing particle filtration
efficiencies, so what is the pressure drop as particles are passing through this filter,
how many particles of what size diameter pass through the filter, as well as its ability
to block bacteria passing through.
Bryan Gallimore: Running into all the scarcity and all the other issues is a major problem
for us, and this project has been really, really good for us.
I’ve had multiple users wear them and run through some of the standard procedures, just
job requirements that we would have with the other PPE that typically would go hand-in-hand
with an N95.
And I think it’s really important that we, in EMS and healthcare, look at PPE that is
affordable and reusable, and that people feel comfortable wearing.
Matt Carney: We really wanted to leverage mass manufacturing practices, and come up
with a design that could really take all this idle manufacturing that exists right now,
and turn it on to kind of broaden the actual supply chain of personal protective equipment.
It’s leveraging what we’re good at, at the Media Lab.
This desire to jump in and think a little differently about things, and to build up
a team to actually make things happen.