Facemasks have become a ubiquitous necessity as one of the best ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The pandemic has dramatically increased the demand for masks and created an environmental problem. Many people do not dispose of their masks properly, leaving them littering the ground where they can seriously harm wildlife as they pollute the land and seas.
UConn assistant professor of mechanical engineering Thanh Nguyen, along with Ph.D. students Eli Curry, Thinh Le, and Tra Nguyen, has filed a patent application for a biodegradable, reusable mask to address these concerns. Most masks are made of polypropylene, a non-biodegradable compound. Since these masks are usually only used once, they are soon thrown into landfills, where they will take years to decompose or end up in the ocean. Nguyen’s mask resembles the familiar blue surgical masks but has several key advantages. This innovation is believed to be the first reusable, biodegradable surgical mask.
This article first appeared in UConn Today, Click here to view the full article.