Professor Bala Mulloth and Team Close to Marketing Better-Filtering, More Comfortable Cloth Face Masks

Batten professor Bala Mulloth co-founds Hava
Gaurav Giri, right, and Balashankar Mulloth co-founded Hava, Inc. to develop technology with the potential to dramatically improve the air filtration efficiency and breathability of face masks. (Photo by Dan Addison, University Communications)

Batten assistant professor of public policy Bala Mulloth has partnered with Gaurav “Gino” Giri, an assistant professor of chemical engineering at the University of Virginia, to develop alternative mask technology to create better-filtering, more comfortable cloth face masks. Mulloth focuses on social entrepreneurship and this project is a display of the power of social innovation to uniquely solve the world's challenges.

The team is patenting a process for turning ordinary fabrics into inexpensive, washable air filters that breathe as easily as plain cloth masks, but are much better at stopping fine particle matter and other airborne hazards. He and his colleagues at Hava Inc., the company the two professors co-founded, anticipate releasing their first run of 5,000 face masks with the technology as early as March.

The team hopes that by then, the Hava masks will be certified under a new standard established in February 2021 by the American Society for Testing and Materials International for breathability and filtration efficiency. The standard applies to face coverings that are not medical masks or respirators.

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