What originally started as an Israeli startup, quickly became a commercial business manufacturing anti-viral face masks with a unique anti-pathogen fabric for the U.S. market by using sound waves to infuse nanoparticles into the fabric.
The Israeli startup Sonovia, which sped up efforts to manufacture masks using its anti-pathogen fabric at the start of the coronavirus crisis in Israel, has launched commercial sales.
The company’s technology is based on a lab-scale sonochemical process that was developed at Bar-Ilan University. Sonovia started manufacturing its product in March at a plant near Nahariya when Israel had only 200 patients, and has sold 30,000 masks. Most of its clients are distributors and nonprofits in the United States.
“When coronavirus started, we were an Israeli startup,” Dr. Jason Migdal, a research scientist with Sonovia, told The Jerusalem Post. “Now, we are a commercial business that is having success internationally.”
Sonovia developed an almost-permanent, ultrasonic, fabric-finishing technology for mechanical impregnation of zinc oxide nanoparticles into textiles.
“The technology is based upon a physical phenomenon called cavitation,” said Migdal.
“Sound waves are used to physically infuse desired chemicals onto the structure area of materials, enhancing them with clinically proven antiviral and antibacterial properties.”
Migdal explained that the novel coronavirus, also known as SARS-CoV-2, is spread via aerosol and direct contact. Therefore, antiviral personal protective equipment is “of crucial importance to combat the transmission of this viral epidemic.”
Sonovia uses lower-cost, metal-oxide nanoparticles, including zinc oxide and copper oxide, to impart antibacterial protection. Research conducted through a grant by the European Union, in conjunction with 16 partners from 10 European countries, found the one-step process to be effective. Ultrasonic irradiation causes the formation of antimicrobial metal-oxide nanoparticles and actively impregnates them into textile fibers. Moreover, those fabrics impregnated with the zinc and copper oxides were shown to retain significant antibacterial activity even after 100 wash cycles at 75ºC or 65 wash cycles at 92ºC.
Its latest filtration results – inhalation and exhalation – showed a 98% success rate for stopping aerosols that are less than five microns in diameter, the size of the droplets that World Health Organization officials think are transmitting the contagion. Typical respiratory droplets exceed this size.
Migdal said the company is preparing to launch an additional study in connection with the Defense Ministry and Bar-Ilan University in the coming weeks.
Furthermore, Sonovia has designed masks that would be appropriate for dogs and cats, he said, as new research has started to emerge that pets can become infected and infect people. However, they have not started manufacturing this product. Migdal said that the company is waiting for additional data.
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