Single-use nitrile gloves continue to be used widely in healthcare settings. A Rice University team led by mechanical engineering graduate student Marquise Bell has recently developed an alternative: reusable gloves that cook viruses.
The gloves are constructed of a composite textile with an electrically conductive layer on the outside and an insulating layer on the inside. In a technique known as Joule heating, in which an electrical current is passed through a conductor to generate heat, the outer surface of the gloves can be quickly heated to a temperature of over 100 ºC (212 ºF) as they’re being worn. In less than five seconds, the researchers say this process can kill at least 99.9 percent of viruses, such as SARS-CoV-2, that may be present on the gloves.
The reverse surface of the material, which is the surface in contact with the skin, gets no hotter than 36 ºC (97 ºF). For reference, the average normal human body temperature is 37 ºC (98.6 ºF).
“The best part is you don’t even need to take off the gloves or other protective garments in order to clean them,” Bell says. “This material allows you to decontaminate in seconds, so you can get back to the task at hand.”
Garments made of the material could reportedly withstand hundreds of uses, with just one pair of gloves diverting 20 pounds (9 kg) worth of disposable gloves from landfills. The material could also be used for other garments, such as masks or smocks.
A paper on the has been published in ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces.
Source: Rice University and newatlas.com.