The research group behind this work, led by the scientist José María Lagarón, is playing a very active role since the beginning of the health crisis, together with the company Bioinicia SL, in the development of filtration materials that can be integrated into masks.
This project has been approved by the CSIC Global Health platform and the Valencian Agency for Innovation (AVI) as an initiative to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic. The lATA thus aims to solve the difficulty of access to certain filter materials and, in addition, to improve the prophylactic quality of the masks, so that they protect against the virus in a passive way, preventing the entry of the virus, as well as active, with the incorporation of viricides in the filters.
Likewise, the IATA-CSIC research team aims to obtain a biodegradable material, in order to avoid that the waste generated by the massive use of protection materials by the population becomes an environmental problem. Very effective fungible filters have already been obtained that can be exchanged daily, thus preventing the devices from being discarded in their entirety.
The developments made so far have achieved filtration levels in certified FFP3-type facilities, indicating that out of every hundred viruses that attempt to pass through the filter, potentially only one or less would. "In the studies in certified facilities that we have recently obtained we are already at values of 0.079 of percentage of penetration of model paraffin aerosols, which implies that it is very effective. In addition, it should be noted that these filtration levels are very difficult to achieve in such fine materials, since they are multilayers with thicknesses of less than 300 microns ", explains José María Lagarón.
The Universitat Jaume I, a member of the CSIC associate unit in Polymer Technology, is also participating in this work, studying the levels of biodegradation of the materials developed at the IATA-CSIC.
For its part, the company Bioinicia S.L., spin off of the CSIC, meets all the requirements for the manufacture of pharmaceutical and biomedical material. It has a GMP and ISO 13485 clean room and a production capacity of 10 tons per year, enough to make several million masks. It has also filed the first patent application with the Spanish Patent and Trademark Office (OEPM), in co-ownership with the CSIC, and is already manufacturing the first protection filters type FFP2 and FFP3.