In reaction to COVID-19, global energy giant ExxonMobil Corp. will work with the Global Center for Medical Innovation to rapidly redesign and produce reusable personal protection equipment for health care workers.
Equipment made via the partnership will include face shields and masks, which are in short supply. A new industrial-style mask is being fast-tracked for production, officials with Irving, Texas-based ExxonMobil said in an April 2 news release.
The new mask design improves coverage of a health care worker's nose and mouth and will use a replaceable cartridge system that includes a filtration fabric to prevent contact spread of the virus from the saturated filter.
In this design, the filters are disposable while the main component of the mask can withstand repeated sterilization. As a result, officials said, the life cycle of the product is prolonged. ExxonMobil's chemicals unit is a major global supplier of polyethylene, polypropylene and specialty resins.
Prototypes are currently being tested and reviewed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. When approved, production will begin immediately, with ExxonMobil supporting the identification of manufacturers familiar with the materials and process to quickly deliver the masks to doctors, nurses and health care providers, officials said.
Manufacturers then will be able to make as many as 40,000 ready-to-use masks and filter cartridges per hour.