America’s multinational oil and gas corporation, ExxonMobil, has partnered with the Global Center for Medical Innovation (GCMI) to redesign and manufacture COVID-19 reusable personal protection equipment for health care workers.

ExxonMobil will leverage its experience in polymer-based technologies to develop face shields and masks which are in short supply.

The energy firm will also supply the raw materials required to manufacture the new industrial-style face masks. The face masks can be sterilized and worn multiple times.

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The new masks cover a health care worker’s nose and mouth and will use a replaceable cartridge system that includes a filtration fabric to prevent contact spread of the virus from the saturated filter.

In this design, the filters are disposable while the main component of the mask can withstand repeated sterilization, thus prolonging the life-cycle of the product and addressing shortages of N95 masks.

Prototypes are currently being tested and reviewed by the US Food and Drug Administration. Once approved, manufacturers indicate they will be able to produce as many as 40,000 ready-to-use masks and filter cartridges per hour.

“Expediting advanced technologies to help those who are combatting this global pandemic is absolutely critical for society,” said Karen McKee, president of ExxonMobil Chemical Company.

McKee added: “We’re proud to do our part by sharing our expertise and experience in material technologies, and energy supplies needed to support our health care workers. It’s just one example of ExxonMobil employees working around the clock to help keep our communities safe and limiting the spread of COVID-19.”

“Scaling solutions rapidly to address the global crisis requires significant investment, innovation and collaboration,” said Tiffany Wilson, CEO of GCMI. “By partnering with ExxonMobil, we’re harnessing the expertise and capabilities of one of the world’s largest energy companies to accelerate our ability to realize that vision.”

The masks will be manufactured at sites in Baytown, Texas and Baton Rouge, Louisiana.