By Mike Stone

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Pentagon awarded a $400 million contract to Ohio-based nonprofit research organization Battelle so it can help to sterilize N-95 masks at 60 locations using concentrated hydrogen peroxide vapor.

Battelle said on Friday it was awarded the contract by the Pentagon’s Defense Logistics Agency on behalf of the U.S Department of Health and Human Services and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted an article about the Battelle technology, noting it “can sterilize masks quickly.”

The contract will cover Battelle’s associated costs of staffing and training system operators who will be deployed across the country to help process previously worn masks.

The company’s Critical Care Decontamination System is already operating in Ohio, Long Island, New York and Washington state. Additional systems are scheduled for operation in Boston, Brooklyn, Chicago, and the Washington, D.C. area, the company said.

The Battelle system uses concentrated, vapor phase hydrogen peroxide and works by exposing used respirator masks for 2.5 hours to decontaminate them from contaminants including SARS-CoV-2 which causes the COVID-19 illness, the company said.

(Reporting by Mike Stone in Washington, D.C.; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)