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BU lab develops a new kind of respirator

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They look like something you’d see on a spacesuit, but in fact they are a new type of respirator developed by a Brandon University laboratory to protect medical workers from COVID-19 here on Earth.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 28/05/2020 (976 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

They look like something you’d see on a spacesuit, but in fact they are a new type of respirator developed by a Brandon University laboratory to protect medical workers from COVID-19 here on Earth.

The lab partnered with Brandon Clinic to develop the respirator, Brandon University said in a news release Wednesday.

“Although cloth masks are recommended to control the spread of amongst the general population, these masks do not provide sufficient protection for medical staff where the risks of transmission of COVID-19 are the highest,” the news release said.

Brandon University researchers, Brandon Clinic and Bachelor of Science students Jessica Li and Jeffery Li have partnered to develop a helmet-style powered air purifying respirator. (Submitted)

“These workers need to be shielded from the virus and require personal protective equipment of a much higher standard. The best-known examples are N95 masks that are rated to filter out 95 per cent of particles. However, disruption to global supplies of respirators has prompted medical service providers to seek alternatives to protect against COVID-19.”

BU researchers and Bachelor of Science students Jessica Li and Jeffery Li developed the helmet-style powered air-purifying respirator. Termed the Canadian PAPR (CAN-PAPR) project, the system they designed utilizes a certified N100 filter, which will eliminate 99.97 per cent of aerosolized particles and will operate for 10 hours on a single charge.

“PAPRs represent a more integrated protection system. There is a full-face shield, head and shoulder coverage and a tube that delivers filtered, lightly pressurized air from a waist-mounted unit,” said project lead Dr. Vincent Chen, associate professor in the BU Department of Chemistry.

“In general, PAPRs are more comfortable to use than tightly fitted face masks. Depending on design and fit, PAPRs will be 10 to 1,000 times more protective than N95 masks.”

Chen said the respirators will remain open source, meaning their designs will be freely available to others to customize and use their plans.

Utilizing 3D-printed parts, Chen and Brandon Clinic are in discussions with Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada for development and to distribute and test their prototypes. To ensure COVID-19 counter measures are in place, the BU lead team is working to scale production and continue tests in preparation for regulatory certification and official approval, the news release stated.

“This is a real grassroots effort to fill a major need in Canada,” Chen said. “I’m excited that our students are able to be engaged in project that is so meaningful to our community. It’s rewarding that we could come together, collaborate and to do our part to fight COVID-19.”

» The Brandon Sun

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