505. Fabrication of biodegradable PLA-PHBV medical textiles via electrospinning for healthcare apparel and personal protective equipment

Johnny Sik Chun Lo, Xu Chen, Siru Chen, Yahui Miao, Walid A. Daoud, Chi Yan Tso, Irum Firdous, Bhaskar Jyoti Deka, Carol Sze Ki Lin, Sustainable Chemistry and Pharmacy, (2024), DOI: 10.1016/j.scp.2024.101536

The demand for environmentally friendly personal protective equipment (PPE) is high due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, conventional electrostatic-based surgical masks and healthcare apparel are single-use, non-biodegradable and often end up as mismanaged waste. Therefore, development of sustainable and biodegradable non-woven textiles is essential. The present work has demonstrated a novel sustainable approach for the fabrication of medical textiles for surgical mask from a substitute of food waste derived polymers polylactic acid (PLA) and poly(3-hydroxybutyrate-co-3-hydroxyvalerate) (PHBV) via electrospinning process. A polymer concentration of 12.5 % comprising an equal proportion of PLA and PHBV in formic acid resulted in stable electrospinning and defect-free nanofibers with a mean diameter of 323 ± 76 nm. A duallayer nanofiber membrane was able to achieve filtration efficiencies of over 99.5% and over 96.2% for 1–5 μm and 0.3 μm particulates, respectively, while maintaining high breathability with differential pressure less than 5 mm  H2O/cm2. The fabricated nanofibrous membrane attributed the necessary characterizations as per the ASTM-F2100 standard. Importantly, nanofiber membrane with an equal proportion of PLA and PHBV has the best overall biodegradation performance. Degradation was significant within 4 weeks in both composting and marine conditions, achieving over 99% and 90% degradation respectively.