Zhengzhou, China – The Covid-19 pandemic highlighted the importance of effective filtering face masks in preventing the transmission of infectious agents between people. However, the efficient filtering of particles below 0.3µm in diameter is difficult.
A team at the Textile and Garment Industry Research Institute at Zhongyuan University of Technology has developed a polyurethane-containing material that appears to fit the bill. It was also designed to have long-term antibacterial activity.
They used an electrospinning process to manufacture polystyrene/fluorinated polyurethane nanofibre membranes that were doped with graphene oxide and a biocidal halamine compound. The resulting nanofibres had significantly smaller diameters than standard PS/FPU fibres, and the doping more than doubled both the tensile strength and the Young’s modulus of the material.
A nanofibre filter mask was created using a membrane made from the nanofibres. It had an efficiency of 99.5%, with a filtration resistance of 54Pa. Furthermore, its antibacterial rate against strains of both E. coli and S. aureus was above 97%.
These antibacterial properties were durable, too. After 10 cycles of chlorination and quenching, the bacteriostatic rate remained high. The team suggest that the materials made from these nanofibres have potential for reusable antibacterial products, including face masks.
The work has been published in the journal ACS Applied Nano Materials.