Engineering COVID‑19 Fashion – Designing the Most Effective Face Masks for the Canadian Fashion Industry

Karatas, Ahmet | $50,000

Ontario Ryerson University 2020 NSERC Alliance COVID-19 Grant

The COVID‑19 pandemic continues to grow rapidly with over 5 million cases and 325,000 mortalities. Currently no effective remedy exists for SARS-CoV-2 infections (the virus that causes COVID-19), and according to the World Health Organization, a COVID‑19 vaccine has a 12-18 months horizon. As our society slowly reopens, mask wearing will likely become ubiquitous, if not legally required, as it is in other countries now.

While the apparel industry is one of the hardest hit sectors amid mall and production closures due to COVID-19, the face mask market has exploded. The global fashion face mask market is expected to grow from $140 million today to $3.4 billion by 2027. Major fashion brands are retooling their production lines to gain a market share in this growing industry. Effective face mask designs must be able to mitigate airborne disease transmission; however, the fashion industry is not well equipped to assess mask efficacy. There is an urgent need for detailed knowledge on optimal mask material and designs that are most effective in preventing SARS-CoV-2 transmission.

This project will develop a comprehensive experimental and numerical framework that can be used to analyze respiratory fluid flow through and around fabric. This work will aid the Canadian apparel industry assess the efficacy of different mask designs and materials to best prevent transmission of COVID-19. This project is anticipated to result in several added benefits such as bolstering the workforce, alleviating pressure on the surgical/medical mask market, and increasing the use of mask materials made in Canada.

With funding from the Government of Canada

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