The first-line healthcare personnel needs masks and PPE for their protection. There are inconveniences associated with this: a lack of supply, a significant cost and excess waste due to these items being used only once.
A solution could help quickly bridge this gap and enable healthcare staff to decontaminate the masks and reuse them several times.
This track has been followed since March by the Walloon Government who encouraged different selected companies and research centres to test decontamination possibilities.
AMB Ecosteryl (Mons, Belgium) succeeded all the scientific test requirements, worked on technological solutions and is now ready to present its “mask and coveralls decontamination machine under dry heat.”
The machine « M-steryl », easy to use, can decontaminate 2000 surgical masks per day or 1400 KN95 or 860 FFP2 masks or 150 coveralls (single-used personal protective clothings).
M-steryl can decontaminate 2000 surgical masks per day
In terms of machine design, professional solutions already existed and allow the desired temperature to be obtained by dry heat. Our teams have selected the best technologies including a partner for the design of the oven.
On the other hand, if the machine existed, it was necessary to adapt it to our protocols and to the results of the numerous tests and trials carried out to date. It was necessary to program a specific decontamination cycle for the temperature to meet our criteria in terms of duration and heat distribution.
To facilitate the decontamination of a mask or gown, we have imagined named boxes (like sandwich boxes) in which the staff could put their used masks, these boxes would go directly into the machine without being opened and the staff could recover their decontaminated masks 2 hours later, or according to the shift, the next day. With the certainty that one’s personal mask (s) have not been manipulated or touched. Dry heat can spread evenly inside the box. It also avoids the multiple plastic packagings that would have been necessary to re-protect the mask that would have been touched and decontaminated with another solution.
The added value of AMB Ecosteryl is clearly on these points: we wanted an economical, ecological solution that could provide all the scientific guarantees of decontamination.
The advantage of the machine is its daily processing capacity as well as its ease of use: a single plug is enough! Any user is able to use it, even if it is better to have a staff member assigned to this function.
The machine costs 6,000 euros excluding VAT. If the FFP2 mask is sold for 4.15 euros (current price in Belgium), the profitability calculation is quickly carried out.
The University Hospital Center Ambroise Paré, the biggest hospital in the city of Mons – Belgium, already acquired the first machine.
In addition to responding to the Walloon Government’s “Mask” request, this research is also a part of the “DeMaND” project coordinated by WHO to develop simple decontamination reprocessing methods for developing countries. Thanks to the research coordinated by the University of Liege, we have learned that we are the only European team to lead this project into Covid-19 mask decontamination.
The dry heat decontamination process of AMB Ecosteryl has been validated
With other selected companies and research centres, AMB Ecosteryl took part in a research approach. The testing procedure costs up to €50.000. Some tests are analysed at the Nelson Labs in the U.S. Other tests are analysed by Centexbel in Belgium. Centexbel is fully equipped to analyse this PPE and is a worldwide acknowledged expert in the evaluation of protective clothing against infectious diseases.
AMB Ecosteryl has passed all of these tests.
We can say that the dry heat protocol used by AMB Ecosteryl can decontaminate masks with COVID-19 and still preserve filtration and respiratory functionalities.
The environment: the key value of AMB Ecosteryl
AMB Ecosteryl was created in 1947 and became in 2003 the unique manufacturer of its innovation: a patented microwave medical waste processing machine. « Ecosteryl » machines have been exported worldwide for more than 15 years. They are used by service providers or hospitals. From Kenya to Tahiti, you can find this Belgian presence there.
The flagship advantage of these machines is the « 0 emission ». The other solutions that are waste incineration or autoclaves reject either toxic fumes or contaminated water. With the alternative offered by AMB Ecosteryl, only electricity is enough. A gain for the environment.
In the midst of the Covid-19 health crisis, medical waste doubled on average and requests for information poured in from all sides. Even in Belgium, medical waste treatment systems have been overloaded. Waste decontamination or mask decontamination, AMB Ecosteryl teams have not been put to rest during the past 2 months.
M-steryl is positive for the environment and recycling. If a mask or gown can be used more than once, this is all the waste that will not be produced. Thanks to the personal boxes in which the masks are placed, these are also so many protective plastic packagings that will not be generated.
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