VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — UBC has designed what could be the world’s first compostable and biodegradable N-95 mask.
Researchers say the Can-Mask is made of wood fibers, sourced and created entirely within Canada.
One goal researchers had was to address the issue of mask shortages.
“When we decided to design a mask back in March, we knew early on we wanted a solution that uses local materials, is easy to produce and inexpensive, with the added bonus of being compostable and biodegradable,” ays researcher Johan Foster, a chemical and biological engineering associate professor in the faculty of applied science.
“With escalating tensions during a pandemic, international supply lines for medical masks can break down, creating local shortages.”
Another goal was to create a sustainable alternative to synthetic and disposable masks.
“With millions of disposable masks and gloves already polluting city sidewalks and potentially entering our rivers and oceans, we urgently need a biodegradable option to avoid making a massive impact on our environment,” says Foster.
They’re testing two versions — one with a newly created wood-based filter made from local softwoods, and another with the N-95 filter attached.
If the prototypes meet safety standards safe, the researchers will apply for Health Canada certification.