NIRI Launches Filtration Platform Technology – Nonwovens Industry Magazine

The Nonwovens Innovation and Research Institute (NIRI) has developed a new technology platform to improve the performance of a wide range of nonwoven products, also suitable for multiple high performance applications. Ross Ward, business manager at NIRI, shows how the technology is already being used in a COVID capture project, for PPE that captures and immobilizes SARS-CoV-2 to prevent viral transfer between healthcare workers and patients. It explains the process and its relevance to many industries, such as air filtration, wastewater filtration, automotive, pharmaceutical, and HVAC.


The impacts of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic are considerable. While significant progress has been made in vaccine development and clinical treatments for COVID patients, even with the rollout of vaccines and increasing population immunity, it remains vital to reduce transmission of the virus. virus to protect the public, frontline staff and vulnerable people from the current. and mutated variants of the virus.


Ross explains the logic behind the Covid Capture project. “In hospitals, increased environmental contamination with SARS-CoV-2 can be found in areas where PPE is removed,” he says. “Improved personal protective equipment materials could reduce the risk of the virus spreading in the environment and the risk of transfer between staff and patients in healthcare settings. NIRI’s technology is designed to capture and immobilize COVID-19 and to prevent cross-infection through contaminated PPE and other products such as HVAC filters, thereby protecting key workers and patients.


To develop the specific technology for the Covid Capture project, NIRI used its new filtration platform technology – and an overview of the general process is detailed below. For this project, NIRI first identified a range of strategies for binding different functional groups to the fiber surface. This allows selection of the optimal binding strategy for the specific adsorbent molecule. The successful development of the project to date means that the COVID-Capture PPE is now being prototyped for clinical trial evaluation.


As noted, NIRI’s new filtration platform technology has applications – whether in product development consulting or through licensing – across a wide range of industries and product types.


“Nonwoven adsorbent technology is developed for the selective filtration of molecules, compounds, and particles from gaseous and liquid environments,” says Ross. “Leveraging NIRI’s technical expertise, with over 750 projects completed for over 350 clients in over 30 industries, the development of this new platform technology has been possible due to the extensive facilities we have at NIRI, including comprehensive prototyping equipment such as dry lay, wet lay, spunmelt, electrospinning and filament spinning and bonding techniques Assessing and optimizing filter performance also critically depends on our analytical services that allow us to adapt and modify the nonwoven architecture and take into account other functional performance requirements.The technical nonwoven can be customized, depending on the nature and volume of the unwanted materials to be filtered , and the specific application, carrier fluid, and separation performance requirements.


When designing an adsorbent filter for a specific application, there are key considerations: the nature of the contaminant and the level of contamination; the nature of the application itself and fluid dynamics such as residence time, adsorption kinetics and required performance. Thus, NIRI carefully considers the material, nonwoven architecture and bonding strategies in the first step of the process – the development of the base filter substrate. It is then possible, by considering the nature of the application and the carrier fluid, to select and apply a surface activation technology that serves as an anchoring and binding site for the bonding chemistries. This surface activation technology can be a range of treatments, such as chemical and plasma techniques. notes Ross,


“It is important at this stage to consider the spatial arrangement and number of binder sites required, and adapt the surface activation process accordingly. Too many binding sites or several sites too close together and the adsorbent components can inhibit each other. Insufficient binding sites and risk that the filter will not remove all contaminants. “


The next step in the process is to bind the adsorbent molecule, which is specifically designed to interact with an adsorbate or contaminant. As the contaminated fluid passes through the filter substrate, the contaminant or adsorbate is captured.


In addition to the COVID Capture project, NIRI has used the new platform technology to improve its Sanguis Universal Plasma Filter and is already exploring applications in wound care, air filtration and wastewater filtration. The company has seen significant investment and expansion, with more than 20 additional employees joining over the past year, including senior innovation scientists, engineers and technicians. Constant investment in new technologies underpins the development of new filtration platform technology and the growth and expansion of the business enables NIRI to help more customers grow their business, accelerate the innovation and develop their next generation of nonwoven products.