A collaboration between Cummins and the Carbon Fiber Technology Facility has resulted in the ability to produce filter media to supply more than a million face masks and respirators per day to U.S. healthcare facilities.
"Because of our expertise in the automotive filtration industry, we believed we could adapt to supply the filter media used in the face masks worn by health care providers, which are also in high demand across the nation,” said Christopher Holm, director of filter media technology and IP at Cummins.
At the same time, the lab was searching for ways to scale up production of face masks with equipment used to mass produce precursor material for carbon fiber production at the carbon fiber facility.
Oak Ridge’s research team had been working to develop a novel, inline charging device that could be placed on the precursor production line to electrostatically charge the melt-blown material made of polypropylene.
"We reached our target goal in only a few weeks on pilot scale melt blowing capability and had the capability to produce filter media for 9,000 masks per hour when we connected with Cummins for potential technology transfer and scale up,” said Merlin Theodore, director of the Carbon Fiber Technology Facility. “Cummins was an ideal partner to scale what we had accomplished and helped us produce material that passed all required testing for filter media.”