Cellulose, Nanocellulose, and Antimicrobial Materials for the Manufacture of Disposable Face Masks: A Review

Rosilei Aparecida Garcia, Tatjana Stevanovic, Joëlle Berthier, Guy Njamen, Balázs Tolnai, Alexis Achim


Cellulose is among the most promising renewable and biodegradable materials that can help meet the challenge of replacing synthetic fibers currently used in disposable N95 respirators and medical face masks. Cellulose also offers key functionalities that can be valued in filtration applications using approaches such as nanofiltration, membrane technologies, and composite structures, either through the use of nanocellulose or the design of functional composite filters. This paper presents a review of the structures and compositions of N95 respirators and medical face masks, their properties, and regulatory standards. It also reviews the use of cellulose and nanocellulose materials for mask manufacturing, along with other (nano)materials and composites that can add antimicrobial functionality to the material. A discussion of the most recent technologies providing antimicrobial properties to protective masks (by the introduction of natural bioactive compounds, metal-containing materials, metal-organic frameworks, inorganic salts, synthetic polymers, and carbon-based 2D nanomaterials) is presented. This review demonstrates that cellulose can be a solution for producing biodegradable masks from local resources in response to the high demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic and for producing antimicrobial filters to provide greater protection to the wearer and the environment, reducing cross-contamination risks during use and handling, and environmental concerns regarding disposal after use.


Antimicrobial properties; Cellulosic biomaterials; Cellulose filaments; COVID-19; Fibrillated cellulose; Filter media; Medical face masks; N95 respirators; Personal protective equipment; SARS-CoV-2

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