ExxonMobil and the Global Center for Medical Innovation (GCMI) today said they have initiated multi-sector and joint development projects to rapidly redesign and manufacture reusable personal protection equipment for healthcare workers, such as face shields and masks, which are in short supply as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

In response to the unprecedented challenges from the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, ExxonMobil is applying its deep knowledge and experience with polymer-based technologies in combination with GCMI to facilitate development and expedite third-party production of innovative safety equipment that can be sterilised and worn multiple times.

A new industrial-style mask is being fast-tracked for production. The design improves coverage of a healthcare worker’s nose and mouth and will use a replaceable cartridge system that includes a filtration fabric to prevent contact spread of the virus from the saturated filter.

In this design, the filters are disposable while the main component of the mask can withstand repeated sterilisation, thus prolonging the lifecycle of the product and addressing shortages of N95 masks.

Prototypes are currently being tested and reviewed by the US Food and Drug Administration.

When approved, production will begin immediately, with ExxonMobil supporting the identification of manufacturers familiar with the materials and process to quickly deliver the masks to doctors, nurses and health care providers.

Once approved, manufacturers indicate they will be able to produce as many as 40,000 ready-to-use masks and filter cartridges per hour.

“Expediting advanced technologies to help those who are combatting this global pandemic is absolutely critical for society,” said Karen McKee, President of ExxonMobil Chemical Company.

“We’re proud to do our part by sharing our expertise and experience in material technologies, and energy supplies needed to support our health care workers.”

“Scaling solutions rapidly to address the global crisis requires significant investment, innovation and collaboration,” added Tiffany Wilson, CEO of Global Center for Medical Innovation.

“By partnering with ExxonMobil, we’re harnessing the expertise and capabilities of one of the world’s largest energy companies to accelerate our ability to realize that vision.”