Wool proves its worth

A wool textile developed by CSIRO researchers has found its first commercial application in personal respirators.

A wool textile developed in Australia by CSIRO researchers for industrial air filtration systems has found its first commercial application in the manufacture of respirators for the personal protective equipment market.

Developed in collaboration with Australian Wool Innovation and Michell, the new filters consist of a combination of wool and synthetic fibres.

Project leader Dr Jurg Schutz said that independent tests have confirmed that the new filters outperformed a range of commercially available competitive products.

‘The secret to efficient fibre-based filtration is the application of an electrostatic charge to the fibres during production of the non-woven filter mat,’ he said. ‘These electrostatic charges attract dust and pollutant particles, and hold them in the filter, greatly improving efficiency.’

CSIRO’s researchers optimised the wool/synthetic fibre blend ratio, and developed manufacturing processes for the production of the electrostatically-charged filter material.

One of Australia’s largest wool exporters, Michell provided financial support for CSIRO’s fibre selection trials and the independent assessment which confirmed that the wool-rich filters out-performed 100 per cent-synthetic filters.

The company’s managing director, Peter Michell, said his company had recently secured a commercial commitment from one of the world’s major producers of personal respirators for the production and distribution of over 500,000 personal respirators and refill cartridges fitted with the wool-rich filters.

Other industrial applications for wool-rich industrial filters are under development as wool begins to regain the market share in filter media that it held decades ago.

CSIRO Textile and Fibre Technology scientist, Dr Jurg Schutz says independent tests confirmed the new filters outperform a range of commercially available competitive products