Biomass-driven nanocomposite fabric materials with hydrophilic charge properties development in vacuum-assisted filtration method (COVID-19)

Saha, Gobinda | $50,000

New Brunswick University of New Brunswick 2020 NSERC Alliance COVID-19 Grant

A global pandemic caused by the severe respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) infection is currently wreaking havoc around the world. Canada, and virtually every other nation, has put its economy in an unprecedented halt as the country fights to stave off the highly contagious and unpredictable nature of the COVID‑19 virus. The World Health Organization’s (WHO) guidelines concerning prevention and control of the COVID‑19 outbreak recommend use of appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), which is the first line of defense against direct transmission of these viruses for practising healthcare workers and patients with suspected SARS-CoV-2 infection. However, the ongoing crisis has exposed the inherent danger of sub-quality PPE, be it for frontline medical, long-term care (LTC), or personal support workers (PSWs) who risk their lives to keep both essential and non-essential services running.

Dr. Gobinda Saha (PI) and his team in UNB’s Nanocomposites and Mechanics Laboratory, Dr. Muhammad Afzal (Co-PI) in UNB’s Bioenergy and Bioproducts Laboratory, in partnership with Thermopak Ltd. and NB-BioMatrix, aim to design and manufacture nanocomposite fabric sheet materials as a requisite to build personal protective hygiene devices (surgical and non-surgical masks and face protective shields) and testing in a medically controlled environment. The goal is to address the quickly evolving human COVID‑19 related health emergency by developing innovative, “Made in Canada” medical grade masks and PPE. The proposed solution will utilize nanomaterial chemistry to fabricate micron sized woven fiber sheets with high mechanical strength, that are lightweight, durable, have the desired porosity to efficiently filter >99.5% liquid droplets, microorganisms, particulates, and can inactivate human coronaviruses and other microorganisms upon contact.

With funding from the Government of Canada

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