A mask that creates a physical barrier to protect the wearer from breathing in airborne bacteria or viruses, reducing the risk of infection in polluted air and potentially contaminated environments, has become a daily necessity for the public especially as COVID-19 has exploded around the world. However, the use of masks often causes soaring temperatures and thick humid air, leading to thermal and wear discomfort and breathing difficulties for a number of people, and further increasing the elevated risk of heat illnesses including heat stroke and heat exhaustion. When wearers become highly active or work under high tension, the excess sweat generated negatively affects the functionality of masks. Here, we report on an innovative design of an air-conditioned mask (AC Mask) system, facilitating thermoregulation in the mask microclimate, ease of breathing, and wear comfort. The AC Mask system is developed by integrating a cost-effective and lightweight thermoelectric (TE) and ventilation unit in a wearable 3D printed mask device, compatible with existing disposable masks, to protect end users safely against toxic particles such as viruses. A wind-guided tunnel has been developed for quick and efficient ventilation of cooling air. Based on a human trial, reductions in the apparent microclimate temperature and the humidity by 3.5 °C and 50%, respectively, have been achieved under a low voltage. With the excellent thermal management properties, the AC Mask will find also wide application among professional end-users such as construction workers, firefighters, and medical personnel.
- Thermal management
- Wearable technology
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Environmental Engineering
- Civil and Structural Engineering
- Geography, Planning and Development
- Building and Construction