Japan has called on Fugaku, the world's fastest supercomputer, to conclude that non-woven masks
are more effective than other common masks at stopping COVID-19 from spreading through airborne droplets.
Japan's Fugaku supercomputer, which USES a 48-core ARM chip, ranks first in the latest TOP500 list. The CPU of the supercomputer USES ARM architecture, with peak floating-point performance as high as 513PFLOP (5.13 billion times), and Rmax performance as high as 415.5 PFLOPS, which is 2.5 times higher than the second-place supercomputer Summit vertex, but the power consumption also reaches 28MW, 2.8 times higher than Simmit.
Fugaku, which can perform more than 415 trillion calculations a second, simulated the virus-prevention effects of three types of masks and found that non-woven masks were better than those made of cotton and polyester at stopping the wearer from coughing, the Nikkei Asian Review said. Non-woven masks are disposable medical masks frequently worn by Japanese during influenza season and COVID-19.
They are made of polypropylene, which is relatively cheap to produce in large quantities.
Non-woven fabrics have no warp and weft threads and are formed without the need for spinning and weaving. They are just made by directional or random arrangement of short textile fibers or filaments to form a fiber network structure, which is then reinforced by mechanical, thermal adhesive or chemical methods. Because it does not weave and weave together from yarn to yarn, but physically binds the fibers together, it cannot be pulled out like ordinary clothing.
Textile masks, including those used in Fugaku simulations, are usually made of fabrics such as cotton. Textile masks emerged after a temporary shortage of non-woven masks in some countries. They can be reused and are usually more breathable, but should be washed at least once a day with soap or detergent and water of at least 60 degrees Celsius, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
According to experts at Riken, the non-woven fabric
blocks almost all the water droplets that come out of a cough.Riken is a government-backed research institute in the western city of Kobe. Cotton and polyester masks are less effective, but still block at least 80 percent of droplets.
According to computer models, non-woven "surgical" masks are slightly less effective at blocking droplets below 20 microns, with more than 10 per cent leaking through the edges and gaps between the face. A micron is one millionth of a meter.
Makoto Tsubokura, head of the research team at riken's Computational Science Center, urged people to keep their masks on despite a heat wave that has swept much of Japan. "The most dangerous thing is not wearing a mask," Tsubokura said, according to the Nikkei business Daily. "It's important to wear masks, even cloth masks that are less effective."
Fugaku also simulated how droplets can spread in divided office space and on a crowded train when the Windows are open.
Although the 130 billion yen (about $1.2 billion) supercomputer will not be fully operational until next year, experts hope it will help identify treatments for COVID-19 from about 2,000 existing drugs, including those that have not yet entered clinical trials.