LPU researchers develop ‘Oxigeno’, a multipurpose algae-based respirator

Prashasti Awasthi Mumbai | Updated on May 30, 2020 Published on May 30, 2020

A team of Lovely Professional University (LPU) researchers have developed ‘Oxigeno’, a first of its kind multipurpose algae-based respirator which neutralizes 99.3 per cent of the harmful gasses and particulate matter in the air. It also boosts the amount of oxygen passing through it, as per the LPU official release.

The researchers stated that the algae has been used in the respirator as the microbes in algae conduct photosynthesis and remove CO2 and other air pollutants while producing oxygen, making the air passing through it more breathable.

The four-layered respirator aims to provide instant relief, especially to the frontline workers who have to wear masks for long hours.

The existing N95 or surgical mask filters out pollutants and microbes but are incapable of filtering out the pollutant gases such as - Carbon Dioxide, Nitrogen & Sulphur Oxides, Carbon Monoxide and VOCs and odours emitted by the disinfectants and cleansers which are prevalent in the enclosed wards of the hospitals.

How it works

Oxigeno claims to filter out particles ranging from 10 micrometres to 0.44 micrometres with the help of four layers of filters comprising of HEPA filter which helps in filtering out dust particles as well.

Researchers further mentioned that the additional algae cartridge further enriches the purified air with Oxygen, which is especially helpful for those who are suffering from respiratory diseases like asthma, and feel suffocated and uneasy while wearing a mask.

The respirator can be re-used by changing the algae cartridge and the filters. It consists of an inbuilt sensor that will alert the user once the algae cartridge nears its life. Usually, the algae cartridge has a life of around 40 hours of continuous use or 7 days while the filters should be replaced after 48 hours of use or a month whichever is first.

Oxigeno is made of an antimicrobial and biodegradable plastic called PLA-Active which would prevent the growth of bacteria and other contaminants on its surface. Also, wearing a mask for long hours causes rashes to people with sensitive skin. To solve this, a design innovation done by the researchers is the use of silicon membrane around the nose and mouth area of the respirator which is much gentler on the skin, LPU noted.

The research team behind the project includes Deepak Deb, Anant Kumar Rajput and Manish Kotni, B. Tech students of Lovely Professional University (LPU) along with Professor Dr Jastin Samuel. The team had earlier developed Algae-based room air purifier and have repurposed the same technology to develop Oxigeno.

Ashok Mittal, Chancellor, Lovely Professional University said in an official statement: “What I appreciate about the research team behind Oxigeno is that they managed to relook at their own invention and created a respirator out of the technology they used to build an air purifier. Innovation sometimes is not just about coming up with something new but about applying the existing know-how to solve the problem at hand.”

The university has filed a patent for the respirator and is also looking for partners for commercialisation. Once it reaches the market, the approximate cost of Oxigeno would be around Rs 3600 which can come down by 30 per cent – 40 per cent with large scale manufacturing.

Published on May 30, 2020
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