LAS CRUCES, New Mexico -- Two New Mexico State University engineering educators are developing reusable innovative technology that they say will increase the effectiveness of face coverings.
"The average person will have access to the technology if they like," said Antonio García, the associate dean of academics in NMSU's chemical engineering department. "But the most important part will be protecting the people most vulnerable."
The educator told ABC-7 that the reusable face coverings will combine a clear physical barrier with an electronic barrier.
"It's important to be able to see people's faces," García explained.
In testing, the electronic barrier has removed 97 to 98 percent of particles in a simulated breath, García said.
"When I say 97, 98 percent removal, it's because we put the censors less than a foot away from the test device and we detect the rapid reduction of particles," García said. "It's instantaneous."
The device has a system of electronics that can detect and add charges to particles, he said.
"When it charges those particles, the particles will then leave the air," the educator told ABC-7.
García said he hopes to have the face coverings available by the start of 2021. His team is hoping to establish private and public partnerships.
"It's the same type of technology if you go into a hospital or maybe a building that has electrical charging of the air," García said.
His team includes Gabe García, an associate dean in NMSU's Department of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering. They began designing the technology this summer.
For phase one of the development, the team has a patent pending with NMSU's Arrowhead Center, García said. In phase two, they plan to pursue FDA approval.
The cost of the face coverings is expected to be between $80 and $100. As the production increases, García expects the price of the masks will decrease.