Life history of Sara Lee Spangaard Krog
Sara Lee Spangaard Krog is a Danish designer. She has developed a self-cleaning face mask. She worked with a team to discover this useful thing. Sara Lee Spangaard Krog Consultant urologist, Prof Raj Persad (BUI), Prof. Norman Ratcliffe (Dept. Applied Sciences, UWE), Steve Hughes, electronic design, and a virologist Dr. Ewelina Król, (Intercollegiate Faculty of Biotechnology, University of Gdansk) have teamed together to combat Covid-19.
The team struggled to design a new type of electronic mask. It is based on the enhanced degradation of viruses (by UV radiation and catalytic oxidation). This quality allows greater lifetime use of masks by self-cleaning.
Sara actually studies design in the small Danish town of Kolding. It lies just under 100 kilometers north of Flensburg. And she was actually in the process of developing wall cladding at the interface between design and high-tech wall cladding. It is the special material which can cleanroom air, for example from the fumes of toxic solvents or car exhaust. Originally, the wall panels were to break down gasoline, formaldehyde, and exhaust gases. But the technology works the same way with viruses and bacteria.
Discovery of the mask
The wall panels cast Sara Lee Spanggaard Hook in plaster, but it is not a usable material in a face mask. Therefore, the challenge was to design a mask in a material that is soft enough to be comfortable to wear on the face.
At some point, however, during tests, she discovered that the “photocatalytic self-cleaning” process also kills viruses and bacteria. That was in January when many Danes were still thinking of a type of beer when they heard “Corona”. But then it became clear that it was coronaviruses and the world was dealing with a pandemic. Her professor gave her the idea of looking for a similar material that could be used to make protective masks instead of large wall panels.
Sara and her professor told us we asked ourselves whether the principle of deactivating viruses would not also work on a small scale, from the wall to the body, to the face. That is super relevant right now, and there was no doubt about that. We will do that!
Organic substances can be destroyed
The principle remains the same, again because it is so beautiful: “Photocatalytic self-cleaning through oxidation of semiconductors”. Luckily Sara not only understands it, but can also explain it reasonably easily.
“It works by putting metal oxide in the mask fabric.”
The metal oxides are irradiated from small UV light sources in the mask. And this destroys organic substances such as viruses or bacteria. Again and again, which is why the masks have a huge advantage that they can be used all the time.
Sara said the mask is helpful to the people being exposed on a regular basis. It includes hospital staff, supermarket workers, and bus drivers.
Still some problems to iron out
But there was a question mark behind it. Because the prototypes have a small battery as a power source for the UV light. It is connected to the tiny lamps in the fabric by wires. At first glance, that makes the masks a bit unwieldy. What to do with the battery and what with the cables so that they cause as little interference as possible? There is still a lot to be developed for Sara, her professor, and a small team of experts who were helping to develop, but the 29-year-old is convinced of her idea.
However, it could happen that your self-cleaning masks that you don’t throw away will not be ready for the market for a few months and, optimistically, they might come too late for this corona pandemic. But even then Sara’s idea is a great thing, say experts. Because if these masks actually render harmless not only harmful substances or pollen, but also bacteria and viruses, there should be enough users in the future: people with respiratory diseases or allergies, and perhaps older or sick people with the next completely normal flu epidemic.
Mission of Sara
Sara thinks of all of them, not just of people from the corona risk groups, and not so much of the money that such masks could be made. “No,” she says, “I’m concerned with the human factor. I would like to help.”
Sara told: In this process, the team had worked hard across different disciplines. These disciplines include textile design, chemistry, electro engineering, and virology. We have used construction methods to develop a pattern for this mask. It is printed with metal oxide semiconductors. The material is irradiated by low power light-emitting diodes. It produces a photocatalytic effect, with the intention of oxidizing and disarming the virus.
-We must be sure that the mask can deactivate the virus with each breath so that nothing escapes. It takes a long time, so I do not know at all if we can get them on the market in this wave of the corona, says Sara Lee Spanggaard Krog.
Protects against pollen and common flu
The self-cleansing face mask can also benefit people who suffer from respiratory diseases or something as common as a pollen allergy.
In that sense, the mask is multifunctional, as more people can benefit from it. Even when the common flu hits every year, the mask can be helpful, she says.
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In several places in the world, face masks have become a regular part of everyday life. The self-cleansing mask also has an environmental perspective. By just being able to clean itself, the mask can be reused for up to a month and thus replace many of the disposable mouthpieces. We are talking about getting used to wearing masks for every