Last year in May, a team of researchers — comprising a PhD and three post-doctoral research fellows and led by professor Rinti Banerjee from IIT-Bombay — developed a coating technology called Duraprot (durable+protection) that can render the coronavirus inactive. The technology is being used to make masks and PPEs.
Duraprot is a natural and biodegradable material (bio-nano polymers) that breaks down the virus and then inactivates it. The mask is coated by dipping the fabric directly into an emulsion or solution. To test the efficacy of the coating, surrogate samples of the SARS-CoV-2 virus were tested in the laboratory.
“When we tested the Duraprot coating against coronavirus samples from Kasturba Hospital, there was a breakdown of the envelope inactivating the coronavirus,” Banerjee told Hindustan Times.
Although the entire team, except for Roshan Keshari, a PhD student from Nepal, was working from home, the technology was ready three months after the lockdown was imposed. Roshan carried out several experiments in the lab based on the team’s designs and formulations.
“There was a lot of back and forth. Our goal was to build solutions quickly and get them tested and ready for industry integration. So, it was a stressful time, as we had to design experiments, look for standards, test out products, send samples for those tests, and get validation,” Kapil Punjabi, a postdoctoral research scientist, told HT.
The manufacturing license has been given to various companies such as Meemansa, Ants Innovations and EcoStyleCrafts. The Better India spoke to Manish Kothari and Priyanka Bapna, co-founders of Meemansa, about the technology and its salient features.
How it works
The Duraprot technology has been tested and patented under the Central Drug Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO). The mask complies with the US Standards, ASTM Level 2 (FFP2) and European standards, Type IIR.
It can be washed 20 times in lukewarm water before being discarded, and since it is made from cotton, it biodegrades, leaving no carbon footprint. Unlike regular cloth masks, this can be worn alone considering it already has two layers.
“The mask has two layers of coating, so when you wash it, the deactivated virus on the outer coating will wear off. The outer layer has hydrophobic (moisture repellency) properties which are there in surgical masks. As per the testing, the mask can take splashes of droplets at a pressure of 140 mm. Coronavirus droplets have no pressure, which means the mask doesn’t allow any filtration. Since the masks are stitched, they seal the face and nose completely. There is a nose pin to adjust the mask as well,” Manish tells The Better India.
The masks are stitched from cotton fabrics. The fabric is dipped into a solution made of organic chemicals and dried naturally before being cut.
“The particulate filtration, in particular, is >98%, therefore, the mask qualifies for N98, and is superior to N95. The breathability of Duraprot is 10 times the WHO criteria. In our testings, less than 1 PFU (infectious virus particles) were found to pass the fabric,” says Priyanka.
Meemansa, which claims to be a zero-waste textile company, is manufacturing 1,000 such masks daily, with each employee making up to 125 masks.
“We are prepared to scale the mask capacity to 20,000 per day. If any organisation orders the masks in bulk, they can give us the masks back after 20 wash cycles. We will explore a system recoat and return them,” says Manish.
Wear a mask, maintain a safe distance and, most importantly, do not venture out unless there is an emergency. At this point, all of us have heard from, and given, this simple yet vital piece of advice to our loved ones. Yet, India recorded 2.73 lakh fresh COVID-19 cases on April 19. As our health infrastructure dies a slow death, medical professionals work harder than ever to save lives and coronavirus-infected patients desperately try to make it through, the least we can do is put on a mask while stepping out.
The Duraprot can be ordered on Amazon, or click here to order directly from Meemansa.
Edited by Divya Sethu