New surgical masks that destroy COVID-19 use antiviral technology refined in Geelong

Article by Dave Cairns and Harrison Tippet, Geelong Advertiser, May 2021.

New surgical masks that can destroy the virus that causes COVID-19 use antiviral textile technology refined in Geelong.

The ground-breaking technology developed by Australian materials technology company Xefco with support from Deakin University researchers is being used by Swiss textile innovation company HeiQ Materials AG to make medical-grade masks.

The HeiQ MetalliQ masks incorporate patent-pending technology called MetalliX, invented by Xefco and further tested and refined with help from researchers at Deakin’s Institute for Frontier Materials.

Independent studies conducted by the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity show materials treated with MetalliX inactivate Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2, the virus that causes COVID-19, in as little as five minutes.

The HEIQ anitviral masks incorporate patent-pending technology invented by Xefco and further tested and refined with help from Deakin Unversity researchers.

The cross-disciplinary Deakin research team, led by Associate Professor Alessandra Sutti, worked closely with Xefco and HeiQ, which has a research base at the university’s Waurn Ponds campus, to support development of the material coating process at scale.

HeiQ says MetalliX-treated materials release copper ions which deactivate viruses and bacteria with the metallic-looking masks destroying all viruses and bacteria tested with up to 100 per cent efficacy.

The masks, with a patented design, contain an ultra-thin pure copper coating applied through a high-tech vapor deposition process which converts a minute amount of copper into vapour, allowing it to be deposited evenly to surround each fibre.

Associate Professor Sutti said the Deakin team provided scientific input and analysis of materials necessary for the scale-up from initial pilot trials to bulk production.

“We assisted in the characterisation of treated materials by co-designing, conducting and facilitating critical testing required for regulatory approval and to validate the safety of the materials,” Assoc. Prof. Sutti said.

HeiQ MetalliQ is made in HeiQ Medica in Spain where HeiQ also conducts research and development activities for medical devices.

Throughout the development of the HeiQ MetalliX technology, Xefco worked with the Institute for Frontier Materials as part of the ARC Research Hub for Future Fibres, of which HeiQ is also a member.