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People Asia's Most Influential: Peter Tsai, Inventor Of N95 Masks

Asia's Most Influential: Peter Tsai, Inventor Of N95 Masks

Asia's Most Influential: Peter Tsai, Inventor Of N95 Masks
Inventor of N95 mask technology and retired professor, Peter Tsai (Image: Brianna Paciorka/USA Today Network)
By Tatler Hong Kong
December 01, 2020
An honouree on The Impact List 2020, inventor and retired professor, Peter Tsai patented the filtration material used in the N95 masks 25 years ago. The events of 2020 have brought him in the news again this year, and back to the laboratory developing fresh ideas

As the inventor of the technology used in N95 respirator masks, Peter Tsai found himself back in the news this year, and quickly out of a short-lived retirement.

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.

See also: Introducing Asia's Most Influential: The Impact List 2020

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.”  

See also: Waste, Unmasked: How Covid-19 Masks Have Affected The Environment


Want to see more from Tatler Hong Kong? You can now download and read our full December issue for free. Simply click here to redeem your free issue. Please note, the free download is available from 1 December, 2020 and is valid until 31 December, 2020.

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People N95 Mask mask Peter Tsai University of Tennessee Inventor Invention Asia's Most Influential Taiwan face masks covid-19

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