What Indian Innovation Can Achieve: IIT-Delhi Start-Up Invents Machine to Decontaminate N95 Masks


What Indian Innovation Can Achieve: IIT-Delhi Start-Up Invents Machine to Decontaminate N95 Masks

Illustration: Mitesh Parmar

Face masks have become the most important accessory to every outfit in 2020. The coronavirus pandemic has completely changed how we behave in public, with social distancing and wearing masks being two of the most sweeping changes. However, unlike a pair of denim jeans, protective face masks can’t be kept around until they are faded and ripped. The high rate of discarding masks by civilians as well as medical professionals has led to a huge uptick in biomedical waste worldwide, an unfortunate side-effect of the safety measures to protect the world’s population from Covid-19. Last week, an IIT-Delhi-incubated start-up made a significant step toward tackling the problem of biomedical waste by inventing a machine(Chakr DeCoV) to decontaminate N95 face masks and make them reusable once again.

The start-up is Chakr Innovation, and they launched their decontamination machine last week, on Friday, 10 July. Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare, Ashwini Kumar Choubey, was present at the launch. The machine is called Chakr DeCov, and it uses an ozone-based decontamination process to enable safe reuse of the N95 masks. “Proper dosage and exposure of Ozone can result in inactivation of SARS CoV-2 and a 99.9999% reduction in bacterial load, after which an N95 mask can be re-used for up to 10 times without any impact on the filtration efficiency,” said Tushar Batham, vice-president of engineering at Chakr Innovation, in a report.

Discarded face masks, along with the other Personal Protective Equipment needed to fight Covid-19, are quickly causing problems for waste management across India. Waste processing plants in cities like Pune have been overwhelmed by the increase in the load of biomedical waste during the pandemic. A machine like Chakr DeCov is an important tool in making the high environmental cost of the pandemic slightly more sustainable.

While Covid-19 has necessitated a complete overhaul of our lifestyle, it can also lead to positive developments like Chakr Innovation’s decontamination machine, since necessity is the mother of invention.