Published: 24th April 2020
This Kovai college has harvested their own cotton to make three-ply N95 masks. Check out how
The Department of Textile Processing, GRG Polytechnic College, Coimbatore is harvesting cotton and are manufacturing N95 three-ply masks with antimicrobial properties
A team of students from the Textile Processing department of GRG Polytechnic College, Coimbatore started making N95 three-ply cloth masks, by harvesting their own cotton!
Their project began in June 2019, when their idea was to grow organic cotton within the college campus. "But that was not enough. We wanted to make a value-added product from the cotton we produced. After brainstorming a few ideas, we realised that masks would be an ideal choice. We decided to make them in a unique manner when compared to the commercially available masks. As we started working on that, the Coronavirus outbreak started, resulting in the unavailability of masks. Hence, without stepping back, we started working on it though we had a fund crunch," explains J Anandha Kumar, lecturer and in-charge of the project.
The organic N95 three-ply mask
Curious about how the masks are made? "It is an N95 three-ply organic mask with antimicrobial properties," he briefs and explains, "The harvested cotton fibre is treated with neem and yellow myrobalan extracts which are well known for the antimicrobial properties in Ayurvedic medicine. The treated fibre undergoes a process called needle punching. Once complete, the masks are manufactured in certain mask processing units."
The team of students with their staff have manufactured about 150 masks till date. "We have ensured that it is comfortable for the user. Running a few tests to check its antimicrobial properties, we confirmed that it was resistant to 95% of microbe infection, thus making it free from germs, organically," says Anandha. Each mask would cost about Rs 190 while a normal N95 mask may cost up to Rs 500.
The students have cultivated organic cotton in the college campus
The product is yet to get patented, and the college has proposed the idea to the PM's Hackathon recently. "Our initial funds were for the organic cotton production. But to make masks, we would need more machinery for which we would require funds," he shares.
Discussing about their future plans of manufacturing comfortable PPE kits, Anandha concludes, "There is a shortage of PPE kits and at the same time, wearing a PPE kit is not an easy job. Hence we are planning to make some fabric which is comfortable and gives the necessary protection as well."