The enormous world demand for personal protective equipment to face the current SARSCoV- 2 epidemic has revealed two main weaknesses. On one hand, centralized production led to an initial shortage of respirators; on the other hand, the world demand for single-use equipment has had a direct and inevitable effect on the environment. Polylactide (PLA) is a biodegradable, biocompatible, and renewable thermoplastic polyester, mainly derived from corn starch. Electrospinning is an established and reproducible method to obtain nano- and microfibrous materials with a simple apparatus, characterized by high air filtration efficiencies. In the present work, we designed and optimized an open-source electrospinning setup, easily realizable with a 3D printer and using components widely available, for the delocalized production of an efficient and sustainable particulate matter filter. Filters were realized on 3D-printed PLA support, on which PLA fibers were subsequently electrospun. NaCl aerosol filtration tests exhibited an efficiency greater than 95% for aerosol having an equivalent diameter greater than 0.3 m and a fiber diameter comparable to the commercially available FFP2 melt-blown face mask. The particulate entrapped by the filters when operating in real environments (indoors, outdoors, and working scenario) was also investigated, as well as the amount of heavy metals potentially released into the environment after filtration activity.
Characterization and Filtration Efficiency of Sustainable PLA Fibers Obtained via a Hybrid 3D-Printed/Electrospinning Technique / Pierpaoli, Mattia; Giosue', Chiara; Czerwinska, Natalia; Rycewicz, Michal; Wieloszynska, Aleksandra; Bogdanowicz, Robert; Ruello, Maria Letizia. - In: MATERIALS. - ISSN 1996-1944. - (2021). [10.3390/ma14226766]