Could corn revolutionize PPE masks?
A team of researchers at McMaster University has discovered a way to transform corn protein into biodegradable filtration material for use in PPE (personal protective equipment).
This development could revolutionize the PPE industry by reducing the amount of harmful waste caused by PPE disposal.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, huge quantities of PPE were disposed of in landfills, causing a major waste problem as most of the material in PPE is not biodegradable. There have been some schemes to extract materials from PPE and recycle them to make new products. There has also been research into making disposable PPE safe for reuse.
The researchers at McMaster looked for a way to make PPE biodegradable and more environmentally friendly. They studied Zein, a biodegradable material made from corn kernels used in food packaging, pharmaceuticals, and other products. They found a way to convert Zein into an effective filtration material that matches the filtration proprieties of traditional PPE by filtering out bacteria, viruses, and other microscopic particles. Unlike traditional PPE, the new material is easy to break down when disposed of. Corn is a renewable resource and Zein is inexpensive to produce.
The McMaster team is seeking partners to scale up the process of manufacturing PPE masks on a large scale using this new corn-based filtration material. They hope that this environmentally friendly alternative type of PPE will revolutionize the PPE industry with corn filtration systems to become the standard type of PPE used in the fight against current and future pandemics.
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