Lincoln Agritech, a multidisciplinary research and development company owned by Lincoln University in New Zealand, has received $290,000 in government funding to create biodegradable wool-based personal protective equipment (PPE) masks for COVID-19 pandemic response. Established in 1964, Lincoln Agritech delivers leading-edge science and engineering knowledge and technologies into environmental, primary, processing and new materials applications.
The products will reduce dependence on overseas producers during high-demand pandemic events and reduce the environmental impact of PPE use. The 18-month research programme is using patented technology from the Wool Research Organisation (WRONZ) to change the physical format of the fibre and improve its absorption and virus-neutralising properties, making the masks both highly effective and environmentally sustainable.
“Wool was an ideal material for the filtration and binding needed to develop PPE, but its coarse structure could present limitations. This research will use newly-developed technology that completely changes the physical form of the wool fibre, creating the light, paper-like membranes that look and feel much more like the PPE masks we typically see mass produced.”Dr Rob Kelly, New Materials Group Manager at Lincoln Agritech
The programme is funded by the $13.57-million COVID Innovation Acceleration Fund (CIAF) announced by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) in March to boost New Zealand’s ability to respond to current and future pandemics.
Lincoln Agritech has established its wool research and product development capability over several years of partnership with the wool industry through WRONZ, Wool Industry Research Ltd (WRONZ’s research subsidiary) and MBIE. Lincoln Agritech will work closely with WRONZ and local manufacturers, including Christchurch-based FibreTech, with assistance from Auckland filter experts, Lanaco.
Read more at Lincoln Agritech