Although we’re gradually moving away from being a throw-away society, single-use nitrile gloves are still widely utilized in healthcare settings. That may not always be the case, however, thanks to the development of reusable gloves that cook viruses.
Currently in the proof-of-concept stage, the gloves are being developed by a Rice University team led by mechanical engineering graduate student Marquise Bell.
They’re made of a composite textile with an electrically conductive layer on the outside and an insulating layer on the inside. The material could also be used for other garments, such as masks or smocks.
Utilizing 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. Within less than five seconds, this process is claimed to kill at least 99.9% of viruses such as SARS-CoV-2 that may be present on the gloves.
While this is happening, the reverse surface of the material – which is the surface that’s in contact with the wearer’s skin – gets no hotter than 36 ºC (97 ºF). For reference, 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,” said Bell. “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 the gloves diverting 20 lb (9 kg) worth of disposable gloves from landfills.
A paper on the research was recently published in the journal ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces.
Source: Rice University