UBC researchers develop biodegradable medical mask for COVID-19

Research Excellence | Strategy 10: Research Culture
Theme: Innovation
The template of the Canadian-Mask, or Can-Mask, a fully compostable and biodegradable N95 medical mask. | Photo credit: Paul Joseph

The response to COVID-19 and the demands on medical-grade personal protective equipment, including medical masks, has turned a spotlight on the need for improved supply lines and the manufacture of masks locally.

Researchers in the BioProducts Institute at the University of British Columbia have responded to the challenge, designing a fully compostable and biodegradable N95 medical mask that can be sourced and made entirely in Canada.

The researchers believe the mask is a good alternative to the synthetic masks currently in use. “The Can-Mask is a promising solution, as it pairs B.C. wood—a marvellous material with future potential for advancing our future bioeconomy and creating jobs—with B.C. industry expertise and technology developed and tested right here at UBC,” says Dr. Orlando Rojas, scientific director of the BioProducts Institute, and recently appointed as Canada’s Excellence Research Chair in Forest Bioproducts.

Dr. Johan Foster, chemical and biological engineering associate professor, Faculty of Applied Science, and Dr. Orlando Rojas, scientific director, BioProducts Institute (Photo by Paul Joseph)

Collaboration by UBC researchers on the pressing challenges of our times is just one example of how UBC is working to sustain research excellence, through Strategy 10: Research Culture.