Pitt | Swanson Engineering
New bacteria-repelling textile coating could make PPE last longer
Associate Professor Paul Leu featured on WESA-FM

Listen to the broadcast at WESA-FM.

New bacteria-repelling textile coating could make PPE last longer
(8:48 — 13:20)

The need for masks, gowns, and other personal protective equipment for health care workers and those on the front lines of the coronavirus outbreak has soared over the last few months, leading to shortages across the country. When the masks and gowns are reused, the textiles used to make them can absorb and carry viruses and bacteria resulting in the spread of the very diseases the wearer was trying to contain.

Paul Leu, an associate professor in Industrial Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh, and Anthony Galante, a 4th year Ph.D. student in the same department are working on a textile coating that could help solve some of these problems that have been magnified by the coronavirus pandemic. Leu says the coating repels liquids like blood and saliva, along with some viruses.

“Even though we haven’t tested it directly on SARS-CoV-2, we do think that it is likely to be able to repel this because SARS-CoV-2 is transmitted through respiratory droplets and the coating can repel droplets from saliva,” says Leu.  

Despite the technology’s potential promise, he says it’s difficult to predict when this technology might become available. “We need to be very careful about accelerating development of materials for actual application,” Leu tells The Confluence. “There’s an urgency to all of this right now, and that’s why we want to try to get this out quickly, but we also want to make sure, you know, that this is something that will really be useful.”

Kevin Gavin, 90.5 WESA-FM, 6/17/2020

Contact: Paul Kovach