Earlier this year during the COVID-19 Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) shortages, Gloria Oporto, associate professor of wood science and technology, West Virginia University, consulted with colleagues and asked, "Why can't we use renewable materials - such as wood derivatives - to supplement the PPE?"
Her question may soon be answered. Oporto, and a team of University researchers, are now working to “develop and test antimicrobial, renewable mask biofilters constructed of composite biomaterials.” The research is being funded by a National Science Foundation RAPID award. (“RAPID grants are awarded to researchers tackling quick-response projects supporting severe or urgent situations.”)
According to Oporto:
- “The goal is to produce a prototype - a reusable, environmentally-friendly biofilter to serve as a filtering, facepiece respirator - that enhances the safety of masks currently used in the medical setting.
- The three key components of the mask filters are: polylactic acid, a biodegradable plastic derived from agricultural and renewable resources; nanocellulose, a nontoxic, lightweight substance produced from wood pulp; and nano copper, which contains antimicrobial properties.
- By incorporating small-sized antimicrobial/antiviral nano copper particles, the filters will likely prevent not only COVID-19, but other viruses and microorganisms, from penetrating a mask.
The team is aiming to develop and optimize the fabrication of these filters by the end of the year. If the research is successful, it will result in the development of a reusable medical mask that is superior to the single-use mask that is currently in use.”
Information source: www.woodworkingnetwork.com