Avalon Nano-Biotech (HK) Limited has provided a donation to the ME department of 3 million Hong Kong dollars to support Prof. Wallace Leung in further developing and commercializing advanced air filtration nanofiber technologies to capture airborne pollutants and viruses (e.g., COVID-19 virus). Alongside with new technology development, Prof. Leung together with Avalon has transferred a nanofiber technology, which has been licensed earlier to Avalon, for the immediate need of developing a highly protective facemask for professionals working in railroad environment. This is especially vital during the current COVID-19 pandemic.

A new clean room for class 8 under ISO 14644-1 has been built in MTR Siu Ho Wan Depot in 3 months to accommodate several facemask production lines that have incorporated nanofibers into the facemasks. The produced facemasks are provided to over 17,000 MTR employees in Hong Kong. Protecting the health of MTR employees is very important as they serve nearly 6 million Hong Kong passengers riding the rail daily. This is also the first clean room ever built by the railroad service provider in the world to produce facemasks for their employees.

The technology adopted by MTR is based on the nanofiber filter technology developed by Prof. Leung’s R&D group in ME since 2006. The nanofiber facemask has been certified for the ASTM level II standard with PFE (particulate filtration efficiency) and BFE (bacterial filtration efficiency) both exceeding 98% by certifying agency. In fact, the PFE and BFE of the nanofiber facemask are above 99% in the certification testing. Further, the nanofiber facemask can also capture 20-60 nm nanoaerosols with filter efficiency of 95-98%. Also, the facemask can be used in dirty environment with high aerosol loading. Not only the facemasks offer high protection against tiny invisible aerosols and airborne viruses, the pressure drop for the facemasks are relatively low providing comfort to wearers. All these merits are extremely beneficial for railroad operators and professionals.

Prof. Leung has also helped to set up quality assurance and quality control to ensure all the produced facemasks in the MTR Siu Ho Wan Depot clean room meet the stringent requirements per ASTM level II certification. This ensures the nanofiber technology is well transferred into a sound and useful product that benefit the Hong Kong community.