Asia's Most Influential: Peter Tsai, Inventor Of N95 Masks
Tsai was a professor in the University of Tennessee when he patented the filtration material used in the masks 25 years ago. His research greatly improved the ability to produce more efficient masks using nonwoven fabrics, melt-blowing and electrostatic charging technology, but his name was barely known outside his native Taiwan before the pandemic.
As the need for the masks, which were designed to be disposable, became critical this year, Tsai went back to work in a makeshift laboratory developing ideas (boiling, steaming, baking, you name it) to clean and decontaminate them for multiple wears without compromising their charge. He published an emergency medical report that recommended dry-heating at 70C for 60 minutes, and also recommended materials to use for make-at-home masks while new and faster ways of producing N95 masks could be developed.
“If I can have this opportunity to help the community, then it will be a good memory for the rest of my life,” Tsai told The Washington Post. “I’m happy to do it.”
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