Public Mask - High performance facemask components

Ingénierie et Architecture

To address the environmental concern due to disposable facemasks, we synthesized tuneable poly(ester amide)s grades and processed them into high-performance facemask components. Our polymers exhibited excellent biodegradability, and performances comparable with commercial facemasks.

Novel poly(ester amide)s grades for non-woven facemask components with excellent biodegradabilty (a), capture efficiency and breathability (b).

The widespread use of disposable facemasks during the COVID-19 pandemic has led to environmental widespread concern due to microplastic pollution.

Biodegradable disposable facemasks are a first step to reducing the environmental impact of pandemics. In this paper, we present high-performance facemask components based on novel poly(ester amide) (PEA) grades synthesized from biosourced materials and processed into non-woven facemask components. PEA based polymers present an excellent compromise between mechanical performance and biodegradability. Importantly, the properties of the PEA can easily be tuned by changing the ratio of the ester and amides, or variation of diol and diacid part. We synthesized seven polymers which we optimized for biodegradability and processability.

Among them, two grades combined 1) electrospinning process compatibility with 2) full degradation within 35 days, using a normalized biodegradation test. The ultra-thin filters thus developed were evaluated for performance on a custom-made characterization bench. The filters achieved a microparticle capture efficiency and breathability comparable to commercial filters. Another PEA grade was optimized to reach optimal viscothermal properties that made it compatible with solvent-free melt-spinning process as demonstrated with continuous fibers production.

Overall, our environmentally friendly solution paves the way for the fabrication of high-performance fibers with excellent biodegradability for the next generation facemasks.