The developers hope that the new masks, which destroy pathogens such as coronavirus, can be sold for as little as $1.
Israeli researchers have developed a prototype face mask which can clean itself using electricity provided by a phone charger.
Developed by researchers at Technion’s Faculty of Materials Science and Engineering, the mask uses an internal carbon fibre layer to destroy pathogens such as coronavirus which may accumulate on it.
The carbon fibre layer is heated using an electrical current which can be provided by a common smartphone charging cable.
The researchers have filed a patent application for the device in the United States and hope to make it commercially available for the price of around $1.
There is currently no news on whether the mask will be made available in the UK and Europe in the future.
The mask would help to combat the issue of waste that arises with a standard disposable face mask.
The new type of reusable mask could help to reduce the environmental impact of an unprecedented rise of disposable masks, which are thrown away once they are are worn or become damp.
Gary Stokes, the director of ocean conservation group OceansAsia, has warned that discarded masks will create a “substantial” amount of ocean pollution.
The self-cleaning masks are like regular face coverings, apart from an input for a USB cable.
The cable powers the heating element inside the mask, which gets it hot enough to kill germs.
Yair Ein-Eli, dean of the faculty of materials science and engineering at Technion, said this is the only modification needed for regular masks to make them self-cleaning.
He told The Times of Israel: “We have inserted a heating element of carbon fibers, and connected it to a USB input like one used to charge cellphones.
“The element can heat the mask to 65 to 70 degrees Celsius (149°-158° Fahrenheit), and it heats anything absorbed in the layers of the mask.”
Ein-Eli added that a 15 to 30 minute heating cycle would be enough to clean a mask.
Government guidance encourages people to wear face coverings in enclosed spaces where it is not possible to carry out social distancing.
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