Coronavirus Technology Solutions


May 15, 2020

Masks for Everyone Who Ventures Outside Each Day

The expert opinion on the value of masks to fight COVID is nearly the opposite of what it was earlier in the year. Studies show that nations which require people to wear masks do much better than those who do not. The deaths per capita in the U.S. are 70 times greater than China. Because of air pollution China has a long history of mask wearing. Japan never shut down but has a low death rate. The reason is that the wearing of masks is universal.

The latest discoveries are that a significant fraction of the virus travels in small aerosols similar in size and mobility to cigarette smoke.


A surgical mask may stop the larger droplets caused by sneezing and coughing but not ones being exhaled. These small smoke sized particles will penetrate a surgical mask. It would therefore be highly desirable for everyone to wear an N95 mask or one with equivalent or even higher efficiency.

To achieve this we need to expand mask and filter media production. We also need to improve ways to decontaminate and reuse masks. H2O2 decontamination methods could potentially allow a mask to be reused 10 to 20 times.  Simple mask washing is the answer for masks made with nanofibers and  membranes. They  presently account for a small share of the market. Most face masks use meltblown media. McIlvaine predicts that the new media technologies will eventually dominate the market. This will allow individuals to wash their own masks and not rely on a decontamination vendor.

At present meltblown media is used in most surgical and N95 masks. Meltblown media is also used in air filters where the demand is rising rapidly due to COVID. Together these uses account for a large portion of the total.


Face masks presently account for just over one fourth of the meltblown market.  Filtration is a large application and incudes liquid filtration, gas filtration, cartridge filters, and air filtration for HVAC and cleanrooms where high efficiency is required. COVID will increase the need for meltblowns for air filters in nursing homes, apartment buildings, restaurants, meat processing plants and many other establishments where people congregate. So facemask and filtration demands will compete for the limited supply. Cummins/Dupont are using filter media normally used in engine filters for facemasks. The filtration segment also includes oil adsorbents.

The "other" segment includes medical fabrics such as disposable gowns, drapes and sterilization wraps.  Reusable gowns are an option which would reduce meltblown demand. Meltblown fabrics are used frequently in feminine sanitary napkins, diaper top sheets and disposable adult incontinence products.

Also included in the "other" segment are disposable industrial apparel, thermal insulation and substrates for synthetic leather. Meltblown fabrics are sometimes used in battery separators and as insulation in capacitors.

If half of the world's 8 billion people should be wearing N95 masks and these masks are reused  five times then 800 million masks need to be produced each day.

N95 masks utilize more meltblown media than do surgical masks.

Mask Production per ton per day of

Meltblown Production

Mask Type

Number of masks

per ton per day


 1 million


0.2 million


World meltblown capacity was 1000 tons per day in January of this year and has increased as much as 10 percent over the last six months.


Tons per day Meltblown

Potential # of Surgical Masks per day

Potential # of

N95 Masks per day

Meltblown world capacity as of Jan 2020


 1 billion

200 million

Sinopec (either or)


18 million

3.6 million

3M  2019



3 million

3M  2020



6 million

3M 2021



12 million

*China  2020-April


200 million


China-2020 Jan




World needs -100% N95



800  million

World needs -100% surgical


800 million


   *Includes non meltblown media

Mask production has grown by triple digits in the last six months but is not nearly enough to supply each individual around the world who congregates with others each day.


The production of melt blown media to fulfill the needs of each person using N95 masks and replacing them after five uses would be 4000 tons per day.  This is four times the meltblown production at the start of 2020 and more than 15 times the present meltblown capacity devoted to masks.  However the total is small compared to the 41,000 tons per day of non wovens produced for all applications. So with less than 10 percent increase in total non wovens production the media for N95 masks for everyone who ventures outside each day could be achieved.

Masks are one of the elements needed for a safe return to the new normal. All the elements are covered in  Coronavirus Technology Solutions Click here for more information

Bob McIlvaine can answer your questions at 847 226 2391


Win the War with Coronavirus Technology Solutions

Shelter in place may have won the first battle but not the war with COVID. The war needs to be won not by defense but by attacking with the right strategy and weapons. Attacking without regard to lives lost is similar to the slaughter in the trenches in WWI.

The weapons are available to win the war with minimum sacrifice. New research shows that the enemy has airborne capabilities of which we previously were unaware. But there is newly developed technology for a successful attack.  Coronavirus Technology Solutions provides the successful battle plan. It is based on understanding the needs and the ways to meet those needs.

It starts with anticipating the potential case load by season and country in the coming months under various scenarios. This analysis defines the needs.



A proactive program is then formulated around those needs. Implementation includes obtaining agreement as to the efficacy of the program. The new research shows that it is not the foot soldiers but the air force which is the biggest danger. This needs to be communicated. The devil is in the details. For each factor we need to consider a number of variables.


Coronavirus Technology Solutions



Potential Case Load

Virus load, minimum infectious dose, % aerosols, reoccurrence factor, impact of vaccines, therapies

Identify Needs

Remove aerosols, test, other safe practices

Design Proactive Program

HVAC with laminar flow and HEPA filters, N95 masks, foot sanitizers, test kits, test capabilities, PPE, antimicrobial coatings, air monitors

Implement Program

Reject obsolete guidance and implement the proactive program


Individuals, companies, associations and governments around the world need to work collaboratively

Cost Effective and Safe Solution

Social distancing and inefficient masks are not effective except under shelter in place. The proactive program allows the safe return to the new normal.


Potential Case Load:  When there are reports of the minimum infectious dose being as low as 10 virions combined with reports that a lusty singer in a Washington state church choir was able to exhale thousands of virions per minute and infect 45 out 60 safely distanced members it is clear that the enemy air force is a real danger.  McIlvaine has been involved for decades in the analysis of transmission of small particles in the air. This phenomenon is at the heart of air pollution, indoor air and cleanroom technology where McIlvaine has multiple publications.

The potential case load is also a function of development of new vaccines and therapies and the production of sufficient quantities to protect billions of people. This requires a huge investment not only by pharmaceutical companies but by contract manufacturing organizations (CMOs).   McIlvaine has a service which is tracking the progress of each potential vaccine and therapy.  Forecasts for a range of filtration products are being made in part based on assumptions relative to the success and timing of vaccine and therapy availability.

Identify Needs:  Removing aerosols requires filter media which removes 0.3 micron particles but allows the wearer to breathe easily. There is a scarcity of meltblown filter media but nanofiber membrane media is available which is washable and meets the requirements.  McIlvaine is tracking the availability of media as well as reagents and other test kit components.

Design Proactive Program: There is a combination of systems, components and consumables which need to be available and in combination provide safety at reasonable costs. These products and services are being analyzed on a daily basis.

Implement the Program:  McIlvaine is interfacing with hospitals, food processors, restaurants and other end users. It is conducting webinars with presentations by experts in filtration and healthcare. A bridge between suppliers and users is created.

Collaboration:  The pandemic is a problem for the world. The fact that the demand is peaking at different times in different countries offers an opportunity for a world approach. The fact that South Korea can supply large numbers of test kits is because of a large investment in automated cleanrooms. It is no coincidence that Samsung Biologics provides more than a quarter of the world's contract biopharmaceutical production. The first successful vaccine could come from any country. Suppliers can also collaborate to a much greater extent. Suppliers of foot sanitizers, walk through temperature scanners, fan filter units and air monitors all have complementary products.

Cost effective and Safe Solution:  The program provides a way to return to near normal quickly and safely. 

Click here for more information on Coronavirus Technology Solutions.  Bob McIlvaine can answer your questions at 847 226 2391 or