BIOPROT (Development of bio-based and antimicrobial nonwoven materials and use as protective equipment) is a two-year project (2022-2023), funded 60% by Business Finland with a total budget of EUR 5.2 million.
The project aims to develop more user-friendly and ecological personal protective equipment (PPE), resulting in better supply security and internationally competitive business in Finland. The leading university, LUT, is collaborating with several Finnish research organisations and companies in the ExpandFibre Ecosystem.
The main focus of the project is to develop bio-based material for the non-woven fabrics (VTT, LUT). Quality assurance of the materials (VTT), antiviral solutions (JYU, LUKE), user orientation among workers in healthcare and intelligence solutions (LAB), and development of business models for procurement processes (UH) will be in a crucial role. The BIOPROT project intends to reach the commercialisation of the novel bio-based PPE in the next two years.
Health care professionals use every day massive amounts of personal protective equipment (PPE), such as caps, surgical drapes, working clothes, respirators and surgical mouth-nose protectors. Almost all of these disposable products have been made of synthetic and fossil-based non-wovens, whose raw material is mainly originating from Asia. Likewise, the reusable masks used in industry have been mostly produced by fossil-based materials.
In BIOPROT, more ecological and bio-based raw materials will be developed and tested, with main focus on respirators, surgical and reusable masks. If a better quality is reached using the new bio-based material, less layers in the masks are required and, concomitantly, less waste is produced. Indeed, the environmental impact of the PPE developed plays a key role. The BIOPROT project is also expected to improve the self-sufficiency of products and materials in Europe. Thanks to the bio-based raw materials, manufacturing will no longer be linked to the availability of fossil-based raw materials.
Organic virus-killing components attached on the surface improve the material properties, which gives a competitive advantage over the other products on the market. The goal is to find a breathable, non-toxic, light- weighted material with good filtrating properties, not causing allergic reactions or headaches for its users and, thus, would increase the wellbeing of the workers required to wear PPE throughout the day. New digital technology is also applied to monitor online the product performance and user-friendliness. Various user surveys will be held in the BIOPROT project focusing on the important factors of the PPEs. It is known that the new solutions will change the formation of the value in the value chain. Therefore, new business models, procurement processes and strategies for circular economy will be developed.
The project manager of BIOPROT Krista Koljonen from LUT University emphasises: “It is of the utmost importance that BIOPROT can be linked to the ExpandFibre ecosystem and gain more contacts to professionals working with similar topics as we are. I am already looking forward to the future seminars and co-operation together.”
The BIOPROT consortium consists of the following actors:
- Funding awarded to the following research organisations: LUT University, LAB University of Applied Sciences, VTT Technical Research Centre, JYU University of Jyväskylä, LUKE Natural Resources Institute Finland, UH University of Helsinki
- Funding awarded to the following businesses: Lifa-Air, Premix, Teknikum, Teknos
- In-kind contributions from HUS, Mehiläinen, Berner, Optitune and Spinnova.
More information: BIOPROT project news on LAB University of Applied Sciences webpage