IIT-Delhi’s startup launches affordable mask ‘Kawach’ to fight COVID-19

By: Education Desk | New Delhi |

Published: April 18, 2020 5:54:38 pm

IIT-Delhi incubated start-up developed N95 equivalent masks for Rs 45

A start-up incubated at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi – ETEX has designed and developed affordable masks called Kawach (protective shield). These face masks, claims the institute, can be used as personal protective gear to offer protection from coronavirus.

As per a press release, the institute claims these masks are at par with N95 masks. The start-up founders informed that these come with an engineered filtration layer of up to 98 per cent efficiency. The mask is priced below Rs 45 to ensure it is affordable for the regular public. The team is also working on new prototype designs for the mask to make it washable and reusable at least 10 times. The start-up is seeking funding support from DST, BIRAC, Corporate CSR, etc, to scale up, the release informed.

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Bipin Kumar, textile and fibre engineering department, IIT Delhi believes that India is staring at another problem of ‘disposal of PPEs’ and claims that it is paramount to make reusable masks. “Though a non-woven layer is a must for ensuring the desired filtration level, the loose fibrous structures make the product disposable after one use. Disposing of synthetic polypropylene non-woven products could have a detrimental effect on the environment,” he commented.

Finding other textile solutions that offer reusability, biodegradability, affordability, and scalability for PPEs is the need of the hour, he suggested, to ensure meeting the demand and also safeguard our environment.

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“The cost of N95 masks used for protection against COVID-19 in the Indian market is quite high, making it unaffordable for the masses. People are using surgical masks also but since they are loose-fitting and don’t properly secure the nose and mouth, these may allow the COVID-19 virus to enter or leave from the sides. Further, the use of sewn cloth as face covering or a handkerchief is useful only to an extent, due to the absence of a non-woven layer,” claimed the start-up.

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