UBC entrepreneurs developing decontamination ovens for medical masks

Apr 17 2020, 9:44 pm

Local entrepreneurs under the University of British Columbia’s Hatch Accelerator program are working on new ways to help frontline healthcare workers address their personal protective equipment (PPE) shortage, specifically facepiece respirator masks.

Earlier this week, BarrelWise Technologies announced it had received funding from Genome BC’s Rapid Response Funding for research and innovation projects relating to COVID-19.

Using the funds, the team will conduct an initial five-week development phase to create a decontamination oven for disinfecting the respirator masks.

According to a release from the university, this is a shift from their usual work of developing and manufacturing a barrel management system that helps winemakers protect and enhance the quality of their wines, by reducing the risk of contamination in the ageing process within the barrels.

Their new decontamination method uses dry and humid heat to sterilize masks. They are planning to bring their cost-effective scale of manufacturing to market in four to five weeks.

This new decontamination oven is intended to be an optional measure of last resort for healthcare workers if the supply shortage in masks becomes dangerously dire from a surge in demand. With the oven, the potential holds for reusing masks that have been thoroughly sanitized through the oven’s cleaning process.

“While the exact needs of individual health authorities over the coming weeks and months are challenging to forecast, the global nature of this pandemic has put tremendous strain on supply chains of medical supplies and created a highly competitive landscape for acquiring essential components,” said Jason Sparrow, CEO of BarrelWise, in a statement.

“It is because of these factors, we are now heavily focused on a rapid and lean development of a robust and research-backed technology solution.”

UBC medical and engineering experts are amongst the team members of BarrelWise.

Kenneth ChanKenneth Chan

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