Rocket Sports Dryer being tested as a solution to Quebec’s N95 mask shortage

The Rocket Sports Dryer, a device designed to disinfect sports equipment, could be the solution to Quebec’s protective medical gear shortage.

Premier François Legault announced Quebec is running low on essential medical supplies used by front line workers, saying stock would only last about a week.

During the pandemic, health care workers are using 10 times more masks, gloves and face shields than normal.

While many supplies can be reused, the N95 mask is an important piece of equipment that cannot.

Pointe-Claire resident and inventor of the Rocket Dryer, Domenico Ciarallo, believes his device could possibly decontaminate the single-use mask.

“Since our dryer is used on hockey equipment to kill bacteria, I thought to myself, this would be an opportunity to help the first responders,” Ciarallo said.

The dryer is currently being thoroughly tested by medical practitioners, according to Montreal General Hospital Director of Anesthesia, Dr. Francesco Donatelli.

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“If the method works, it’s great. If it doesn’t work, we need to know so we do not put patients at risk,” Donatelli said.

As it stands, the Rocket Dryer could hold up to 120 masks.

But with additional racks, it has the potential to decontaminate some 400 masks every 15 minutes.

The machine uses a combination of heat and UV light.

The motor produces heat of 70 degrees Celsius, paired with a blast of UV light, to disinfect and kill bacteria.

“It works for hockey gear. We hope it can do the same on the masks,” Ciarallo said.

Dr. Donatelli believes the virus will be neutralized in the dryer but worries about the integrity of the mask once sterilized.

“No question it will kill the virus, but we still don’t know if it will kill the mask in the process,” Dr. Donatelli said.

If it is a success, Ciarallo and his team say they have several units ready to ship to local hospitals.

Tests are still being conducted with results expected to be released in the coming days.

“I’m taking my dryer from the hockey industry and I want to put it in the medical industry. If it can work, it can save lives,” Ciarallo said.

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