Virus protection through novel nanohybrid textiles

Illustration of a person wearing a mask against virusesNanofibre layers are highly suited for use as barrier fabric. Their application provides better protection against bacteria and viruses than pure nonwoven. Due to their extra fine structure, nanofibrous layers in combination with nonwovens are of great use for example as filtering material in mouth-nose masks or barrier material in protective suits. Nanofibre membranes also filter reliably if the material becomes moist from the exhaled air after a certain period of time – a big advantage over conventional masks whose filter function is partly based on electrostatics which makes them sensitive to moisture.

On their own as single layers, however, nanofibres only have a low mechanical resistance and need to be combined with other materials. This is a particular challenge because sufficient adhesion must be guaranteed between the nanofibre layers and the carrier material. In view of the current COVID-19 pandemic, this topic has gained special importance and is of great social relevance.

Development of innovative hybrid textile structures based on nanofibres and meltblown nonwovens

The CORNET project NanoHyb which started in July 2020 is currently working on the development of innovative hybrid textile structures based on nanofibres, produced through electrospinning, to be integrated into nonwovens. The nonwovens are produced by a so-called meltblown process, also creating ultra thin filaments. In order to join the different layers properly without using adhesives and to achieve a particularly strong adhesion and thus, ultimately, a reliable filter performance, several technologies are applied such as laser and ultrasonic welding treatment. The international research crew from Germany and the Czech Republic is furthermore exploring the possibility of modifying surface layers by using plasma treatment to generate a strong adhesion.

Expected research results benefit small- and medium-sized enterprises

The use of nanofibre filters is considered state of the art technology. The expected R&D results of NanoHyb will be made available to companies, especially small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which can adapt them to their needs and develop new products on basis of this research. The potential fields of application of the methods and products are primarily seen in pandemic protection (disposable protective equipment and clothing textiles). The currently constantly evolving requirements for barrier materials that are used in pandemic protection are being incorporated into the research work.

Project participants from Germany:

Forschungskuratorium Textil e.V. (FKT) (Coordinating Association)
Sächsisches Textilforschungsinstitut e.V. (STFI) (Research Performer)

Project participants from the Czech Republic:

CLUTEX ‐ klastr technické textilie (Association)
VÚB a.s. (Research Performer)
SVÚM a.s. (Research Performer)

 

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