Reusability Comparison of Melt-Blown vs Nanofiber Face Mask Filters for Use in the Coronavirus Pandemic

Sana Ullah, Azeem Ullah, Jaeyun Lee, Yeonsu Jeong, Motahira Hashmi, Chunhong Zhu, Kye Il Joo, Hyung Joon Cha, Ick Soo Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

176 Scopus citations


Shortage of face masks is a current critical concern since the emergence of coronavirus-2 or SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19). In this work, we compared the melt-blown (MB) filter, which is commonly used for the N95 face mask, with nanofiber (NF) filter, which is gradually used as an effective mask filter, to evaluate their reusability. Extensive characterizations were performed repeatedly to evaluate some performance parameters, which include filtration efficiency, airflow rate, and surface and morphological properties, after two types of cleaning treatments. In the first cleaning type, samples were dipped in 75% ethanol for a predetermined duration. In the second cleaning type, 75% ethanol was sprayed on samples. It was found that filtration efficiency of MB filter was significantly dropped after treatment with ethanol, while the NF filter exhibited consistent high filtration efficiency regardless of cleaning types. In addition, the NF filter showed better cytocompatibility than the MB filter, demonstrating its harmlessness on the human body. Regardless of ethanol treatments, surfaces of both filter types maintained hydrophobicity, which can sufficiently prevent wetting by moisture and saliva splash to prohibit not only pathogen transmission but also bacterial growth inside. On the basis of these comparative evaluations, the wider use of the NF filter for face mask applications is highly recommended, and it can be reused multiple times with robust filtration efficiency. It would be greatly helpful to solve the current shortage issue of face masks and significantly improve safety for front line fighters against coronavirus disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7231-7241
Number of pages11
JournalACS Applied Nano Materials
Issue number7
StatePublished - 24 Jul 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2020 American Chemical Society.


  • cell study
  • coronavirus
  • face mask
  • filtering efficiency
  • melt blown filter
  • nanofiber filter
  • reusability


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