Since this Pandemic started there has been a big issue with Personal Protective Equipment; especially with the ever present need for the N95 mask. Its just one of the best bits of equipment available to help fight COVID-19.
The trouble is it was not intended to be needed on such a large scale in such a short time. They didn’t plan for a respiratory virus pandemic, apparently.
But fortunately for everyone; it’s inventor is still around. His name is Dr. Peter Tsai, and he came out of retirement to help. That’s probably not as big a deal as you might think, he’s only 68 and retired last year.
But what’s important is the reason he came out of retirement; he saw there were problems with his mask material that needed solving. So he turned his home into a lab and started working on solutions for how to make the N95 mask reusable.
He wasn’t able to test all his ideas properly so he was worried people were trying his suggestions that weren’t validated; but fortunately others, including N95DECON, an interdisciplinary research group, were also working on this issue and they could use his suggestions to properly test the methods. Which has allowed for some safe re-use of the N95 mask.
But that’s not all!
Because when he was contacted by a lab who was trying to solve the supply issue Dr. Tsai was there within the week to help out. “He came that very same week, fully suited up. He brought his own equipment,” said Dr. Merlin Theodore, director of the Carbon Fiber Technology Facility at Oak Ridge National Lab “He reminded me of someone going to war.”
He was able to help them convert their facility to making masks within another week; a process that normally takes MONTHS. “Just imagine the amount of experiments you’d have to run to determine a process that works,” Theodore said. “That can average from months to years. But we didn’t have to because he had already done all the experiments.” Now they can output enough material to make roughly 9,000 masks in an hour.
The work has not been without its toll. Tsai said that since the start of the pandemic, he had lost 10 pounds, but he hasn’t lost his sense of humour. “Someone said I should get a Nobel Prize,” Tsai joked. “But what I deserve is a ‘No Belly’ prize.”
You can read more about this remarkable man and what he and his invention have done in your Good News Story of the Day here. Pay close attention to the man himself; humble and kind in his attitude. As evidenced by his motives: “This is an opportunity for me to contribute to the community,” he said. “If I can do this, it will be a good memory for the rest of my life.”
Story and Image from the Knoxville News Sentinel.