Safa Jafari Safa, Office of Communications, email@example.com
Tackling the worldwide shortage of N95 masks proven to protect the wearer from airborne particles including COVID-19, a research team of professors and students from the Maroun Semaan Faculty of Engineering and Architecture (MSFEA) has designed, developed, and fabricated an N95 quality mask that is reusable, easy to sterilize, comfortable for long-duration use, and durable.
As the the global pandemic surfaced, and in response to an observed shortage in N95 masks, an AUB team started their research mid-March 2020. The team is composed of assistant professor of mechanical engineering from MSFEA's Smart Structures Lab, Dr. Mohammad Harb, who leads the materials and manufacturing team; dean of MSFEA and head of MSFEA's Aerosol Resarch Lab, Dr. Alan Shihadeh, who leads the aerosol filtration aspect of the project; and Dr. Elie Shammas, associate professor and cofounder of the Vision and Robotics Lab (VRL) at MSFEA who leads the design team. They formed the COVID-19FabLab, which brings together different expertise to tackle the virus and its repercussions, with the team designing, prototyping, and testing respirators and masks made from locally-sourced materials.
The design, materials, and manufacturing team includes five mechanical engineering students, one electrical engineering student, and one chemical engineering student*, with Nareg Karaoghlanian and Mohamad Baasir as research assistants.
Several designs were produced that address specifications such as filtration efficiency, material bio-compitability, form fit, and comfortablilty. The design iterations were fabricated to produce fully functional masks using 3D printing at AUB's makerspace known as the RED Room. The final prototype design and development were assessed by AUBMC doctors in the COVID clinic.
“Our expertise in design, materials, manufacturing, and aerosol dynamics, in addition to our laboratory and makerspace facilities, were well-utilized to go from a basic concept into a functional user-centered reusable mask," said Dr. Harb.
The project aims to provide the Lebanese community with N95 quality masks that are manufactured locally from raw material available in the Lebanese market. With high quality, user-centered design, and locally manufactured personal protective equipment (PPE), healthcare providers are projected to no longer have to worry about a shortage in PPEs.
“This project brought together researchers and students from different fields to design and fabricate locally a highly valuable piece of equipment to guard our healthcare providers against a life-threatening invader so they could continue safely to be our real heroes," said Harb, who is experienced in advanced composite materials and manufacturing techniques including carbon fiber composites and additive manufacturing known as 3D printing. “Our AUB students have shown over and over again that they are more than capable and well qualified to develop products for a safer world."
Student researchers: Hassan Ajami (ME), Perla Chaar (ME), Carl Daniel (ME), Ibrahim El Khatib (ME), Omar Labban (ME), Raneem Sheronick (ECE), Lynn Chehab (CE)
For more information: https://www.aub.edu.lb/msfea/Covid19FabLab/Pages/default.aspx