Cutting the cost of N95 mask-making
The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory has collaborated with multinational tech company 3M to develop a technique to reduce the amount of energy required for melt-blowing the materials needed in N95 masks and other applications. The melt-blowing process is also used for other products like furnace filters, coffee filters and diapers. By using Argonne supercomputing resources to pair computational fluid dynamics simulations and machine-learning techniques, the Argonne and 3M collaboration sought to reduce energy consumption by 20% without compromising material quality.
The melt-blowing process uses a die to extrude plastic at high temperatures. Finding a way to create identical plastic components
at lower temperatures and pressures motivated the research.
Photo: Shim, Creative Commons