Sustainable development creates opportunities for innovation. Juliana Lam of INNOTIER shares her experience in inventing reusable masks that aim at bringing positive impact to our daily life
Face masks keep us safe from Coronavirus. When there are so many options in the market, the innovative reusable mask is considerable for protecting both human health and the environment.
We have options, suggests Juliana Lam of INNOTIER, who set foot in manufacturing hi-tech performance fabric long ago. In her opinion, rather than passively led by the market, she and her team decided to proactively look for solutions that protect our health while keeping the environment in mind.
Inhibiting bacteria naturally
Well experienced in producing hi-tech performance fabrics such as moisture-wicking, odor-eliminating, and UV-managing fabrics, Juliana and her team swiftly transferred their experience to focus on utilizing advanced technology to fight the pandemic. “From a personal perspective, we do want to protect the health of ourselves and our families, this has become the major goal in all these technological inventions we have involved.”
Fighting the pandemic is like competing against time. The speeds of transmission and mutation of the virus are alarming. Juliana and her team have found out that those researches on the disposable surgical mask are effective to keep out the viruses but not eliminate them. She says: “Viruses would attach to the surface of the mask. This sounds too passive. So, we thought safely inhibiting the viruses should be the way to go.”
Their “silver” woven face mask is made with Noble Biomaterial’s Ionic+™ technology that harnesses the power of 99.9% pure silver woven directly into the fabric, which can drastically reduce the viability of the virus and microbes on the surface. The primary principle behind this technology is the release of silver ions (Ag+) from the Ionic+™ fibers. The positively charged silver ions will be released in the presence of respiratory moisture and will act in serval ways to inhibit and eliminate bacteria on the surface of the mask, protecting the masks from microbial impact.
In this sense, silver plays a significant “defensive” role in protecting our health. The antibacterial activity of silver has long been known throughout history. It was being used to address wounds during WWII, for example. “Let’s think about Chinese acupuncture. The needle used is mostly made of pure silver,” explains Juliana. “Whether it’s gold or silver, as long as they are 100% pure, the positively charged ions will be released in contact with air; virus generates negatively charged ions, so when a lot of positively charged ions are released, the negatively charged ions will be inhibited, that is viruses.”
The spirit of innovation is essential for sustainable living
Most of the laboratories will only conduct tests on the reduction in virus viability after 24 hours. For Juliana, it was too long and that’s prompted her to search for a laboratory that would conduct tests in a smaller time frame. “The fabric we used for the first edition of face mask is proven effective against the virus to 99.99% in 2 hours; it dropped to 98.28% within half an hour. Such variation encouraged us to continue the test and this time 10 minutes, the result was a 78.07% reduction in virus viability. We could say that our silver woven face mask is effective in inhibiting the virus. Today, our face mask can control and eliminate the COVID-19 and SARS-CoV-2 viruses up to 99% within a second.”
According to some statistics, there are around 2 billion disposable masks wound up in the ocean since the pandemic, causing damage to the planet. Juliana is clear that it takes time for people to accept reusable masks. But she and her team believe that what they could do more is to bring no drawbacks to people and the earth with their invention. “Since our face mask could effectively eliminate viruses and can be washed up to 200 times, such reusability nature meets the standard for sustainable development.”
The pandemic will be over one day, but it already has taught us how important is health to us. Juliana strongly believes that the scientific research conducted, and innovations invented would bring benefits to our sustainable future in the long run. “The end goal of scientific inventions is to improve our life.” At the end of the day, enabling people to adapt to the new normal has pushed Juliana and her team to strike for scientific breakthroughs.