The Can Masks, developed on the BioProducts Institute, matches the efficiency of disposable polypropylene masks however is far safer for the surroundings, in response to its creators. (Photograph by Paul Joseph)
A staff of Canadian scientists on the College of British Columbia has developed a biodegradable face masks utilizing pure cellulosic fibres and nano-materials comprised of wood-based merchandise.
The Can Masks, developed on the BioProducts Institute, matches the efficiency of disposable polypropylene masks however is far safer for the surroundings, in response to its creators.
“In comparison with a surgical masks the breathability is fairly good, in all probability higher, after which, what issues probably the most, the filtration effectivity is as much as a normal of a surgical masks, even a bit bit higher,” mentioned Orlando Rojas, Professor and Canada Excellence Analysis Chair, and Scientific Director on the BioProducts Institute.
As a part of UBC’s School of Utilized Science, the BioProducts Institute develops methods to make use of renewable assets present in nature as different options to fossil gas derived supplies.
“The primary precept is to make use of wooden or plant fibres and they’re assembled collectively as in paper… and the fibres are assembled in such a manner that you’ve sufficient porousity for respiratory and but you possibly can filter out the virus particles,” Rojas mentioned.
The primary shell of the masks makes use of cheap paper-type supplies which are available and within the centre the masks has a specifically engineered filter or a membrane that ensures excessive breathability and filters out tiny particles, Rojas mentioned.
The biodegradable face masks is a part of the institute’s effort to mitigate the influence of the dramatic rise in using single-use plastics, which in response to some estimates has spiked by 40 per cent worldwide because the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Earlier this yr, an article within the journal Environmental Science and Expertise warned that mismanagement of private protecting gear (PPE) throughout the COVID-19 pandemic – with a month-to-month estimated use of 129 billion face masks and 65 billion gloves globally – is leading to widespread environmental contamination.
Canada alone has ordered over 60 million face shields, 1.8 billion gloves, greater than 187 million N95 respirators and practically 420 million surgical masks, in response to figures reported by the federal authorities.
Within the meantime, whereas eating places and bars have been shut down for sitting prospects for a lot of the primary and second wave of the pandemic, there was an unprecedented enhance in meals take-out, items deliveries, and use of plastic grocery baggage over reusable cloth totes with a purpose to decrease viral transmission.
“In a PP [polypropeline] masks biodegradability doesn’t exist, a PP masks is used for a really brief time – just like any single use plastics, that are used on common for 12 minutes – however they final for 1000’s of years,” Rojas mentioned. “Quite the opposite, the fibre masks are totally biodegradable, and never solely biodegradable, they’re compostable.”
As well as, not like polypropeline masks, these fibre masks don’t create microplastics in the event that they find yourself within the water column, which is a big problem with all single use plastics, he added.
At the moment hospitals have solely two choices to cope with used polypropeline masks: to incinirate them or to ship them to landfill to keep away from them turning into a vector for spreading pathogens, Rojas mentioned.
The fibre masks, alternatively, will be safely recycled like some other recyclable paper, he mentioned.
“Paper will be put again in water and it goes by means of a sequence of processes at excessive temperature and alcalyne circumstances that basically will let the fibres to be reused with none issues concerning the viruses, as a result of viruses wouldn’t survive these circumstances,” Rojas mentioned.
As much as 80 per cent of paper is recycled in some nations, whereas solely 4 per cent of polypropelene is recycled again into different plastics, he added.
The Can Masks developed by the BioProducts Institute is just not the one Canadian biodegradable masks.
FPInnovations Inc., a Quebec-based forestry innovation group, introduced in September that it too has developed a single-use face masks filter out of fully-biodegradable wooden merchandise.
And an organization in Vietnam claims to have made reusable, biodegradable and antibacterial face masks utilizing espresso beans.
Rojas mentioned they’re in talks with a significant masks producing firm that’s eager about commercializing their invention and getting all of the regulatory approvals wanted for the masks for use in medical settings.