We detail an experimental method to electrocharge N95 facepiece respirators and face masks (FMs) made from a variety of fabrics (including non-woven polymer and knitted cloth) using corona discharge treatment (CDT). We present practical designs to construct a CDT system from commonly available parts and detail calibrations performed on different fabrics to study their electrocharging characteristics. After confirming the post-CDT structural integrity of fabrics, measurements showed that all non-woven polymer electret and only some knitted cloth fabrics are capable of charge retention. Whereas polymeric fabrics follow the well-known isothermal charging route, ion adsorption causes electrocharging in knitted cloth fabrics. Filtration tests demonstrate improved steady filtration efficiency in non-woven polymer electret filters. On the other hand, knitted cloth fabric filters capable of charge retention start with improved filtration efficiency which decays in time over up to 7 h depending on the fabric type, with filtration efficiency tracking the electric discharge. A rapid recharge for a few seconds ensures FM reuse over multiple cycles without degradation.

Fuente: Proceedings of The Royal Society A