SAN JOSÉ | Costa Rica has developed and is testing for registration of a new device for disinfection of disposable masks for face a shortage of equipment of protection against the coronavirus.
The prototype, developed by scientists of the university institute of technology of Costa Rica (TEC) and the private company Plasma Innova, is intended to disinfect the masks, disposable N95, which provide the best protection against the virus.
It combines the action of ultraviolet rays and the technology of plasma treatment, which is normally used to clean microelectronic devices.
The objects to be disinfected (masks, but also any object that is potentially contaminated) are placed in a kind of micro-wave oven where they are subjected to the treatment.
“As far as we know, Costa Rica is the only country in the world that would use this technology to disinfect N95 masks,” reports the engineer and professor at the TEC José Asenjo.
The device has already passed the stages of national testing and should be tested by an international laboratory approved by the world Health Organization, ” says Mr. Asenjo.
Without waiting for the approval of international, a dentist in San José, Oscar Vargas, is already using the device: for him, the camera allows him to ensure that his patients “a better guarantee for the sterilization and control of infectious agents in this period of a pandemic”.
The research responds to a request from the social security Fund of Costa Rica, who wants to be able to cope with the shortage of masks.
“The resources are drying up. We are a small country and the purchases that we make are insignificant in comparison with the rest of the world. We have better things to do to ensure our supply, it is to disinfect the masks that we already have to reuse it,” explains the project coordinator, Marta Vilchez.
Irradiation with ultraviolet is a technique that is already proven and recognized. The novelty is to combine the plasma treatment, which generates molecules, including ozone.
“Ozone is an unstable molecule and reacts very well with the fat, which constitute the envelope of the virus and bacteria. This means that the ozone in contact with the COVID-19 breaks its envelope and kills it,” says Marta Vilchez.