A Burnaby brewery has repurposed new brewery equipment to decontaminate N95 masks.
Steamworks Brewery took delivery of its steam-driven chamber pasteurizer days before the onset of the COVID-19 crisis.
It was for laboratory use in new product development and for preventing re-fermentation from occurring in beers with high sugar content such as radler and barrel-aged beers. The chamber pasteurizer looks like a big upright freezer.
Steamworks Brewery CEO Eli Gershkovitch, long a proponent of steam, was fascinated by work being done by the Battelle Organization and Stanford University on decontaminating existing masks as a way of dealing with the worldwide shortage of new N95 masks, especially for first-line health-care providers.
Using protocols developed by Stanford University and approved by the CDC, the Steamworks pasteurizer is capable of decontaminating 1,200 N95 masks per cycle using either steam or hydrogen peroxide vapour (HPV).
“With steam, our pasteurizer can decontaminate 1,200 masks per cycle and approximately 10,000 N95 masks per day. Using steam, each mask can be decontaminated up to three times,” Gershkovitch said. “With hydrogen peroxide vapour, we can do about 5,000 masks per day, but the masks can be decontaminated a maximum of 10 times before needing to be discarded. Thus, choose steam for speed while HPV is preferred for greater reusability.”
Health Canada has confirmed that any registered hospital in Canada can use the Steamworks pasteurizer for decontaminating masks without further regulatory authorization.
Gershkovitch is offering the Steamworks pasteurizer to any accredited hospital or health authority in British Columbia and in neighbouring Washington State that is facing a shortage of N95 masks, at no cost.