Cure Air Sure, A Mask that Filters Toxic Dust and Germs — A New Chula Innovation for Healthy Breaths

A Chula research team launched Cure Air Sure, a high-performance mask that filters PM2.5 dust and prevents 99.9% of germs, is comfortable to wear, easy to breathe through, using transparent materials to reveal a smile. Cure Air Sure masks for comfort and hygiene at an affordable price are to hit the market soon.

The recurring PM 2.5 toxic dust crisis, and now the COVID-19 pandemic that still does not seem to die down, makes air filtration technology a necessity for the New Normal lifestyle that yearns for clean air free from pollutants and germs.

Cure Air Sure air-filter mask
The masks

There are many types of face masks on the market, but their efficacy, wearability, and comfort are still the issues with which users are not very confident. For this reason, the project “High Efficacy Filtration Technology for the Healthcare Sustainability of Thailand” led by Prof. Dr. Anongnat Somwangthanaroj, Department of Chemical Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, Chulalongkorn University, has launched Cure Air Sure air-filter mask made with the technology by Thai people.

“The Cure Air Sure mask passed the functions test excellently, both in its ability to filter fine particles of as high as 99.93%, and bacteria as high as 99.9%.  Moreover, it can also resist the penetration of synthetic blood and is nonflammable,” Prof. Dr. Anongnat said.  She added that the mask is comfortable to wear with more breathing room, and the filter is earth-friendly, thus helping with the overflowing toxic waste problem which is an important issue for the research team.

Air filtration technology

“We want healthcare sustainability for Thai people for the time when Thailand cannot import air filtration equipment,” Prof. Dr. Anongnat revealed the motivation behind the Cure Air Sure mask research and production project.

Cure Air Sure air-filter mask wearing
Mask wearing

During the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, surgical masks suitable for health workers were in serious shortage, because they were in demand all over the world. Countries that manufactured masks slowed their exports to other countries. Thailand was also affected by this crisis.  At the time, low-quality, uncertified masks hit the market, causing a safety risk. Therefore, Thailand should have its own production source, or air filtration innovation of its own to ensure sufficient quality masks for the population.

Asst. Prof. Dr. Rattaphol Rangkupan, Metallurgy and Materials Science Research Institute – (MMRI), Chulalongkorn University, one of the developers added that during the first phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Foundation for Good Governance in Medicine and the Thai Red Cross Society selected a working group from the project to verify the quality of the donated PPE kits, N95 masks, and KN95 masks, before distributing them to health workers in areas with heavy outbreaks.  Later on, Chulalongkorn University started to offer a service to test N95 masks, and face masks free of charge.

“Many masks were of substandard quality, thus putting users at risk.  The working group, therefore, came up with the idea that Thailand should have locally-made filtration technology to cope with the shortage of high-grade protective masks in the future,” said Asst. Prof. Dr. Rattaphol.

For this reason, several faculty members along with the private sector formed a Cure Enterprise social enterprise, with over 70% of profits going back to Chulalongkorn University.

“We intend to send the first lot of CURE Air Sure to those who are facing a high risk of COVID-19 such as checkpoint staff, pre-vaccination screeners, volunteers, etc., before distributing them to the general public soon after,” Asst. Prof. Dr. Rattaphol said.

Funding support for masks production for donation came from Chula alumni. The research was funded by the Second Century Fund, Chulalongkorn University (C2F).  Collaboration was received from Chula faculty members, researchers of MMRI, doctors at the Faculty of Medicine, and external agencies such as T.C. Pharmaceutical Industries Company Limited, SCG Packaging Public Company Limited, Saha Pathanapibul Group Company Limited, the Innovation, and Industrial Technology Development Division, Department of Industrial Promotion and the Plastics Institute.

Cure Air Sure air-filter mask components
Mask components

Special features of Cure Air Sure

The Cure Air Sure air mask was designed and developed with a special focus on three key features.

  1. Air filtration efficacy – This is the heart of air filtration technology. The Cure Air Sure mask filters more than 95% of fine particles, which is equivalent to a filtration efficacy of an N95 mask.
  2. Reduction of toxic waste – Face masks are a necessity that must be worn and kept clean. Cure Air Sure uses replaceable filters. The material is lightweight – only 15% of regular masks. It is smaller than the N95 mask, reducing the amount of infectious waste that is difficult to dispose of.
  3. Comfortable to wear and a snug fit on the face – Cure Air Sure mask is made of strong, anti-scratch, and chemical-resistant, injection-molded clear plastic. The silicone edge around the mask is flexible, snug against the wearer’s face helps reduce irritation where the skin comes in contact with the mask. It also prevents leakage of outside air into the mask. The wider mask helps trap air, making it easier to breathe, reduces humid conditions. The head strap is adjustable.
Cure Air Sure air-filter mask, breathing test
Breathing test
Cure Air Sure air-filter mask functions test
Mask functions test

“After being worn for about 3-4 hours, the Cure Air Sure mask was found to be more comfortable than the N95 mask.  Even with some fogging up while speaking, it didn’t feel damp while wearing. In addition to comfort, the mask is easy to clean with soapy water, then rinse and hang dry. The filter requires changing only once a week, and it costs less than 30 baht,” said Prof. Dr. Anongnat.

Preparation to sell the high-quality masks

Prof. Dr. Anongnat said the various function and property tests of the filter and the fittest of the Cure Air Sure mask has been completed. Currently, the team is determining the distribution channels.

“The fit tests with many volunteers found that the mask fits most people, except for those with a long face and high nose.”

One set of Cure Air Sure consisting of a mask and four filters (one-month supply) costs 400 baht. A four-piece filter set is 100 baht which equals 5 baht per day.

Finally, Prof. Dr. Anongnat added that the research team is developing the next batch of masks for those who want to wear makeup, and need a mask that accommodates their cosmetics while maintaining air filtration efficacy to prevent germs and air pollution.

*Read more about PPE quality review for use in COVID-19 ICU procedures here.

Chula is the place to discover one’s true individuality and the years I spent here were most enjoyable.

Rossukhon Kongket Alumni, Faculty of Communication Arts, Chulalongkorn University