Columbus-based Cummins Inc. (NYSE: CMI) has announced a partnership with Delaware-based DuPont (NYSE: DD) to help provide a synthetic membrane to produce N95 respirator masks used by healthcare professionals.
Cummins uses the hybrid membrane material, which is produced by DuPont, in a variety of its filtration products for heavy-duty diesel engines.
Named NanoNet and NanoForce by Cummins, the filtering technology is breathable but it can block particulates.
“Cummins is re-evaluating our supply base and manufacturing capabilities to identify how we can support our healthcare professionals who rely on critical personal protective equipment to do their jobs,” said Amy Davis, vice president of Cummins Filtration. “Our NanoNet Media can fill a key supply void.”
The Indiana company said the first mask prototypes using Cummins’ media were assembled by University of Minnesota teams in March.
“The first thing we recognized from our experts… who work directly with Cummins, is that not all filtration materials are created equal and that the Cummins material is an excellent alternative,” said Jakub Tolar, campus health officer and Medical School Dean at the University of Minnesota.
Tolar says the U of M team has been able to make rapid progress and it believes they have several viable mask options, including both a disposable and reusable option.
“These designs show real promise in keeping our healthcare workers safe should standard medical supplies of N95 masks no longer be available,” said Tolar.
N95 means a respirator or mask can block at least 95% of particles from entering the wearer’s nose and mouth. Cummins said its testing methods show their membrane exceeds those requirements, but it must be tested and approved by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).
The project also aims to provide open source instructions that other healthcare systems and groups can use to create their own respirator masks.