MADISON (WKOW) — A team of UW-Madison engineers is back with another innovation to keep people safe during the pandemic.
This fall, they designed the Badger Seal to be worn over a mask.
Researchers on campus tested the device and found it makes a disposable mask as effective at preventing the spread of the virus as an N95 mask.
“Essentially, what that does is it provides an adequate seal around the outer part of the mask. Because masks like N95 masks, one of their biggest strengths is the ability to have a nice seal, and that’s one of the weaknesses of these types of disposable masks, is they typically don’t provide a good seal but they do have really good filter material,” said Lennon Rodgers, director of UW’s Grainger Engineering Design Innovation Lab.
The team also learned the seal had an unintended benefit of preventing fog on glasses.
The engineers made a few thousand Badger Seals for teachers and students on campus, to help create a safer classroom environment.
But now, as cases surge, the Badger Seal is available to the general public, too. A Madison-based company has started manufacturing them and is selling the product online.
The engineers have been working to develop PPE throughout the pandemic. They created the Badger Shield in March for health care workers, then developed another version that became popular with teachers returning to classrooms this school year.
Millions of the shields have been produced around the world since then.
All the designs are available for free online and can be made at home.
“We wanted a design that was easy to make and it also uses materials that are very easy to get,” said Rodgers.
The research found the Badger Seal made a disposable mask four to eight times more effective at filtering than a cotton cloth mask and about three times more efficient than a standard surgical mask worn without a mask fitter.
Researchers say the disposable mask’s filtration efficiency with the Badger Seal was 95%. An N95 mask has an effective filtration efficiency of at least 99%.