COVID-19 anti-viral nanofibrous filtration media from renewable materials

Renneckar, Scott | $75,000

British Columbia University of British Columbia 2020 NSERC Alliance COVID-19 Grant

This project aims to create anti-viral, non-woven nanofibre filtration media that effectively captures 0.3 micron sized particles with a minimum pressure drop across the filter. These two aspects create filter media that minimize respiration impedance while maximizing filtration efficiency of aerosol particles. Our research group is actively spinning nanoscale renewable fibres suitable for filtration using the biopolymer, lignin. Lignin is separated from industrial pulping operations here in Canada and previously has been reported to show anti-viral capacity. Further, modification of lignin with non-leaching quaternary ammonium polymers was previously studied by the PI’s team; quaternary ammonium compounds are potent disinfectants against viruses and are used as active ingredients in Lysol wipes. These compounds can effectively deactivate coronaviruses by disrupting the outer lipid membrane. As such, our efforts are aimed to create anti-viral filtration media composed of lignin and quaternary ammonium polymers with the former sourced from a Canadian supply chain in the forest industry. The fibers can be used in conjunction with pulp fibre substrates to make renewable filtration media created within Canada. The proposal is expected to deliver a much needed renewable biopolymer-based filter that will trap and deactivate viruses such as SARS-CoV-2.

Based on the outcome of this proposal, the partners will understand the critical parameters required to make these high performance renewable filters. From these technical aspects, the partners will be able to look specifically into production processes that will allow scale-up of the technology from the technical aspects, supply chain opportunity, and performance. Hence, the partner organization efforts will further advance the technology readiness level (TRL) scale to the next gate, as well as, seek and connect businesses for supply of filtration media. Together this team has all the components to quickly develop a Canadian-supplied, high performance, renewable filter with anti-viral properties to fight this pandemic.

With funding from the Government of Canada

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