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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/W01114X/1
Title: Development and manufacturing of innovative, low-cost, mass-produced, environmentally friendly filters and masks protecting against COVID-19
Principal Investigator: Lekakou, Professor C
Other Investigators:
Howlin, Dr BJ Labeed, Dr FH
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Blu Thomas Medical Ltd Brother Engineering Ltd Hardshell
Medex Scientific Ltd National Physical Laboratory
Department: Mechanical Engineering Sciences
Organisation: University of Surrey
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 30 July 2021 Ends: 29 January 2023 Value (£): 521,709
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Manufacturing Machine & Plant
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Manufacturing Healthcare
Related Grants:
Panel History:  
Summary on Grant Application Form
Given the surge in demand for masks to protect against CONVID-19, there is huge investment for new mask manufacturing plants in UK. A shortage of specialised mask materials points to the need to also manufacture these materials in UK. Enlisted in this herculean effort, we have assembled a team of industrial partners, including mask manufacturers, an equipment manufacturer, and testing companies. Our project aims at bringing manufacturing of filters and masks to the UK, lowering the cost and developing a roll-to-roll process of additive manufacturing using low-cost, abundant and environmentally-friendly materials. The principal idea of this project is to select, after testing, a range of natural-fibre cloths, to be used as substrate for additive manufacturing. Such substrates will be coated with a novel porous layer with functional groups trapping the COVID-19 and other high-risk viruses. Electrospinning is proposed as our additive manufacturing technique, where the assembly of coating layer(s) and cloth substrate will protect against the virus by filtering it, depending on porosity, pore size, fibre orientation, coating layer thickness and functional groups of coating and cloth. The proposed project includes the following tasks: (a) molecular simulations to screen materials and functional groups in terms of their binding energy with the virus spike; (b) continuum infiltration mechanics simulations to investigate the virus migration through the porous material assembly, as well as the air flow for breathing in the case of masks or air flow filters; (c) development of the electrospinning to a continuous roll-to-roll process; (d) material and product testing.
Key Findings
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Summary
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Organisation Website: http://www.surrey.ac.uk