A team of researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, has developed a cheaper alternative to the Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) kit to help overcome its shortage for frontline workers battling the coronavirus crisis.
The team claims that the kit is as safe as the standard PPE suits, but would cost less than Rs100 in mass production. The IIT team of bio-science and bio-engineering researchers has named the kit PIPES (Polyethylene-based Improvised Protective Equipment under Scarcity).
The PIPES kit can be used by medical professionals, policemen, and sanitation workers who are at risk of contracting coronavirus infection.
Prof Nitin Gupta of Department of Bio-sciences and Bio-engineering, who headed the team, said: “The spread of coronavirus has resulted in huge demand for PPE for those working in high-risk environments. As standard PPE kits have become scarce, there is a need for low-cost and mass-producible alternatives for protection of the entire human body”.
He said that they designed the PIPES kit based on thin cylindrical rolls of polyethene (polythene), which is non-porous and commonly used for packaging and making carry bags.
The design and production process of PIPES Kit is open-source, so any small or medium-scale factory can start manufacturing them in large quantities soon. If mass-produced, one kit can cost less than Rs100, Prof Gupta said.
“The PIPES Kit may not be visually appealing and as comfortable as the standard PPE kit, but it meets the primary goal of protection against infection. The usability of the kit has been checked and feedback from doctors has taken,” he added.