In an April 8 press release, Michelin said that along with other companies in France’s Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region, it is developing and planning to produce a reusable face mask in the battle against the coronavirus pandemic. The tire major is headquartered in Clermont-Ferrand, a city and commune of France, in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region.
Since March 16, Michelin revealed that a “collaborative ecosystem” formed and coordinated by the Grenoble-based collective VOC-COV has been working on the design and large-scale rollout of a reusable mask.
The OCOV® mask, entirely developed and manufactured in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region in record time, is affordable, sustainable and can be produced in large quantities.
As opposed to an FFP1 or FFP2 face filter, made solely of filtering material, the OCOV® is an FMP1 or FMP2 face mask featuring a flexible facepiece covering the nose, mouth and chin, as well as replaceable and reusable filters. The leakage rate authorised by the FM standard is five times less than that specified for the FF standard (FM: <2% / FF: <8%). The OCOV®’s flexible facepiece ensures a snug fit, thereby minimizing leakage compared to FFP1 and FFP2 filters or other washable masks. It provides a good seal between the atmosphere and the wearer’s face (whether the skin is dry or moist and when the head moves). According to Michelin the mask is comfortable for extended periods of time and can be reused up to 100 times thanks to five washable, interchangeable filters, while its production cost is very competitive.
The Grenoble-based Atomic Energy Commission (CEA) is providing access to its infrastructure and research/testing resources for this project. Leveraging their know-how to very rapidly produce the first prototype, Michelin and CEA teams quickly mobilised alongside other regional industrial partners. This rapid speed of response allowed mask production operations to start in less than three weeks. Ouvry, a Lyon-based SME specialising in biological and chemical personal protective equipment, was chosen to manufacture and market the mask.
Michelin said that production of a prototype batch of 5,000 units is currently underway. The goal is to produce one million masks per week by May, leading to total production of more than five million masks by the end of June. This would essentially be the equivalent of 500 million of the current, single-use, masks. About 130,000 masks have already been reserved, a portion of which Michelin will give to regional health agencies.