EDMONTON -- Engineers at the University of Alberta have developed a new type of respirator using parts from snorkeling gear.

“It is comfortable and you can breathe well,” said Emanuel Martinez, an engineering masters student.

The design combines a snorkeling mask with hoses to a special battery powered fan and filter system.

The mask will be able to keep frontline workers safe from COVID-19 according to one assistant professor at the U of A.

“We have tested the airflow, we believe it is very good. We’ve also tested the batteries, we believe they are good for ten to 12 hours a day,” said Assistant Professor Rafiq Ahmad.

The masks are close to being ready for testing by doctors and nurses.

“The very first thing we will need to look into is how comfortable this to wear in an ICU setting,” said Ahmad.

Some parts for the masks can be made at the university, pieces of the fan housing and battery port are made on a CNC machine and 3D printers.

Medical grade tubing is something they are still hunting for but the filter is a special cloth made by ACAMP, who recently started making A95 masks.

If given the green light the group is hoping they could begin production in a month at the U of A.

With files from CTV News Edmonton’s David Ewasuk