Coating makes COVID-19 virus molecules “stick” to the surface of the mask, preventing them from being inhaled and exhaled
“One spray per day” makes cloth masks perform as well as N95 masks
Up to $1.75 million awarded by National Science Foundation to accelerate development
SEATTLE, Oct. 26, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Membrion, a manufacturer of lower cost, high performance ion exchange membranes, today announced a breakthrough in the fight against the COVID-19 virus: a molecular coating that can better protect people from the virus. Thanks to a grant from the National Science Foundation, the company is developing a spray coating for cloth and N95 masks that captures COVID-19 molecules on the surface of the mask, preventing them from being inhaled into the lungs or exhaled into the environment.
Viruses like COVID-19 typically carry a surface charge. Membrion’s molecular coating creates a countercharge that attracts and binds COVID-19 virus molecules. In the same way that magnets with different polarities stick together, the charged virus molecules stick to the opposite charge in the coating on the mask.
“Right now, while cloth masks are somewhat effective at limiting the spread of the virus -- if the wearer is infected -- they do absolutely nothing to protect the wearer from inhaling COVID-19 virus molecules,” said Greg Newbloom, Membrion’s Founder and CEO. “Our molecular coating not only prevents virus molecules from being inhaled, but it also blocks them from being exhaled in the environment. This 1-2 punch makes cloth masks immediately and exponentially more effective which can dramatically reduce the further spread of the virus.”
N95-type masks are widely considered an effective solution for reducing coronavirus transmission, but they are expensive to produce, in short supply and needed most by emergency personnel. While widely available, cloth masks provide only a 2x to 4x increase in protection factor against virus exposure compared to the 80x – 140x protection factor for N95 masks. Membrion’s novel application will make cloth masks as effective as N95 masks and make N95 masks more effective for longer periods of time. Pricing has not been finalized, but Membrion expects it to cost approximately $1 per dose (which lasts up to 24 hours).
Membrion has completely retooled its core business to focus on bringing this molecular coating to market as quickly as possible. While Membrion will be able to produce up to 25,000 doses per day at its existing Seattle production facility, the company is seeking partners to dramatically scale production to make the coating globally available. Membrion is optimistic that all safety and health regulatory approvals will be received by November 31, with production commencing in early January, 2021.
Membrion leverages silica gel – an inexpensive, non-toxic material that is often packaged with new shoes, beef jerky and many other consumer products – to produce a novel class of commercial ceramic membranes. Membrion’s technology converts the highly absorbent, small-pore silica gel into flexible ceramic membranes that can be engineered to meet the needs of a wide range of applications. It does so at a dramatic cost reduction relative to the current industry-leading membranes.
Membrion has developed breakthrough Molecular Self Assembly (MSA) technology that uses readily available, non-toxic and low-cost materials to produce advanced ceramic ion exchange membranes which perform better and cost significantly less than today’s ceramic and polymer options. More information is available at www.membrion.com.