If the wearing of the mask has become widespread since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, this accessory has been criticized at different levels. A company attached to a Swiss university is at the origin of a new protective mask. The latter is transparent, flexible, resistant, and recyclable.
In our western societies, wearing a mask is far from being a habit. For many, this accessory usually reserved for hospitals hinders breathing, suffocates the voice, and impacts social relationships. Indeed, talking to people who conceal half of their faces is somewhat confusing. Not to mention that recently, an NGO communicated on the pollution generated by protective masks.
HMCARE is a spin-off from the EssentialTech Center of the Federal Polytechnic of Lausanne (Switzerland). However, this company is at the origin of a protective mask of a new kind, intended to solve the problems mentioned above. Called Hello Mask, this mask should be available in 2021. In the meantime, the start-up has raised nearly 950,000 euros to launch the industrialization phase and is working to finalize certain points concerning its creation. In addition, a press release published in May 2018 shows that this research predates the Covid-19 pandemic.
Regarding the transparency of the mask and the obstacle to breathing, the researchers mentioned a big difference with what you can see, especially on the Internet. Certain prototypes of masks indeed display a transparent part. However, it is only a non-porous polymer that does not solve the breathing problem, in addition to generating fogging. HMCARE has therefore developed a polymer combining transparency, porosity, and resistance. Researchers point to the presence of tiny interstices of 100 nanometers. However, it is a size that is found in traditional masks allowing air to pass but not viruses and other bacteria.
Regarding the ecological impact, HMCARE has seriously worked on the issue. Remember that the usual masks are not paper but polypropylene. It is a non-biodegradable petroleum derivative and very complicated to recycle. The Swiss start-up indicated that its membrane was made from biomass up to 99%! However, work continues to achieve full eco-compatibility.
You should know that this type of mask is woven using a special technique: electrospinning. It involves stretching the polymer fibers by exposing them to an electric field. However, according to HMCARE, this technique allows large-scale manufacturing and limited costs. However, the selling price should be 15-20% higher than that of a conventional surgical mask, which is far from being indecent.
Hugues Louissaint is an entrepreneur and writer, living in the US for over a decade. He has launched successful products such the Marabou Coffee brand, which has been highly successful in Florida. He has also been a writer for more than 5 years focusing on science, technology, and health. He writes part-time for the Scientific Origin and provides valuable input on a wide range of subjects.