Taiwan’s ‘MacGyver’ makes mask sterilization device using groceries

Photo courtesy of Soochow University

TAIPEI (CNA) — As face masks are becoming an essential accessory amid the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, an expert in physics from a Taiwanese university has shared his knowledge and DIY skills to construct an ultraviolet ray mask disinfection device using common household appliances such as aluminum foil and old lampshades.

Chen Chiu-min (陳秋民), an associate professor at Soochow University in Taipei, is known to his students and colleagues for his skill in making household utensils out of recycled materials, dubbing him “MacGyver” at Soochow.

MacGyver is a character in the namesake American television series aired from 1985 to 1992, who was featured as a secret agent good at using his extraordinary talent for his extensive knowledge of using tools at hand to solve problems.

Recently, Chen made a simple disinfection system using aluminum foil, an old lampshade, a plastic washbasin and a 20-watt UV lightbulb that he said he purchased for only a few hundred Taiwan dollars.

Chen covered the inside of the lampshade with aluminum foil and did the same to the washbasin. He then attached the bulb to the lampshade to complete the improvised sterilizer.

He experimented by using coins to determine if the sterilizer works, and found many microorganisms on a slice of white bread eight days after he pressed one unsterilized coin on to it, Chen said in a Soochow statement that was released Friday.

In comparison, far fewer microorganisms grew on another slice of bread that had been touched by the coin he had sterilized with his homemade device, according to Chen.

However, he warned that while UV rays can kill germs, they are also harmful to the eyes and skin.