Nanofiber Filter for Coronavirus Aerosol Capture

Left: A nanofiber filter that captures 99.9% of coronavirus aerosols; Proper: A extremely magnified picture of the polymer nanofibers. Credit score: Yun Shen

A filter constructed from polymer nanothreads blew three varieties of business masks out of the water by capturing 99.9% of coronavirus aerosols in an experiment.

“Our work is the primary research to make use of coronavirus aerosols for evaluating filtration effectivity of face masks and air filters,” mentioned corresponding writer Yun Shen, a UC Riverside assistant professor of chemical and environmental engineering. “Earlier research have used surrogates of saline resolution, polystyrene beads, and bacteriophages — a bunch of viruses that infect micro organism.”

The research, led by engineers at UC Riverside and The George Washington College, in contrast the effectiveness of surgical and cotton masks, a neck gaiter, and electrospun nanofiber membranes at eradicating coronavirus aerosols to forestall airborne transmission. The cotton masks and neck gaiter solely eliminated about 45%-73% of the aerosols. The surgical masks did a lot better, eradicating 98% of coronavirus aerosols. However the nanofiber filter eliminated virtually the entire coronavirus aerosols.

The World Well being Group and Facilities for Illness Management have each acknowledged aerosols as a serious mechanism of COVID-19 virus transmission. Aerosols are tiny particles of water or different matter that may stay suspended in air for lengthy durations of time and are sufficiently small to penetrate the respiratory system. 

Folks launch aerosols each time they breathe, cough, discuss, shout, or sing. If they’re contaminated with COVID-19, these aerosols can even include the virus. Inhaling a adequate amount of coronavirus-laden aerosols could make individuals sick. Efforts to curb aerosol unfold of COVID-19 deal with minimizing particular person publicity and decreasing the general amount of aerosols in an setting by asking individuals to put on masks and by enhancing indoor air flow and air filtration programs. 

Learning a contagious new virus is harmful and carried out in labs with the best biosecurity scores, that are comparatively uncommon. Up to now, all research throughout the pandemic on masks or filter effectivity have used different supplies thought to imitate the scale and conduct of coronavirus aerosols. The brand new research improved on this by testing each aerosolized saline resolution and an aerosol that contained a coronavirus in the identical household because the virus that causes COVID-19, however solely infects mice. 

Shen and George Washington College colleague Danmeng Shuai produced a nanofiber filter by sending a excessive electrical voltage by way of a drop of liquid polyvinylidene fluoride to spin threads about 300 nanometers in diameter — about 167 instances thinner than a human hair. The method created pores solely a few micrometers in diameter on the nanofiber’s surfaces, which helped them seize 99.9% of coronavirus aerosols. 

The manufacturing method, referred to as electrospinning, is price efficient and might be used to mass produce nanofiber filters for private protecting tools and air filtration programs. Electrospinning additionally leaves the nanofibers with an electrostatic cost that enhances their capacity to seize aerosols, and their excessive porosity makes it simpler to breathe carrying electrospun nanofiber filters.

“Electrospinning can advance the design and fabrication of face masks and air filters,” mentioned Shen. “Creating new masks and air filters by electrospinning is promising due to its excessive efficiency in filtration, financial feasibility, and scalability, and it may well meet on-site wants of the masks and air filters.”

Reference: “Improvement of electrospun nanofibrous filters for controlling coronavirus aerosols” by Hongchen Shen, Zhe Zhou, Haihuan Wang, Mengyang Zhang, Minghao Han, David P. Durkin, Danmeng Shuai and Yun Shen, 17 Could 2021, Environmental Science & Expertise Letters.
DOI: 10.1021/acs.estlett.1c00337

The paper is printed in Environmental Science & Expertise Letters. Different authors embrace Hongchen Shen, Zhe Zhou, Haihuan Wang, Mengyang Zhang, Minghao Han, and David P. Durkin. This work is funded by the Nationwide Science Basis. 

By Rana

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