Queensland University of Technology (QUT) and Adelaide-based incubator Innovyz have formed a joint venture that will bring mask material made from agriculture waste to the market.
The JV startup CelluAir will commercialise the virus-filtering material which was developed by QUT process engineer Dr Thomas Rainey and his research team.
Proof of concept testing has found the material can filter nanoparticles smaller than 100 nanometres, the size of a virus, while retaining high breathability to reduce wearer fatigue.
The deal means CelluAir will begin an accelerated six-week scope of work to scale up the technology with the aim of taking it to market as soon as possible.
CelluAir has incubated advanced manufacturing startups including Titomic (ASX: TTT) from the CSIRO in 2017 and Amaero (ASX: 3DA) from Monash University in 2019.
"The new material is relatively cheap to produce and is biodegradable making it sustainable for single use," says Dr Rainey.
"Our tests showed the new material was more breathable than commercial face masks, including surgical masks.
"Breathability is the pressure or effort the wearer has to use to breathe through the mask. The higher the breathability the greater the comfort and reduction in fatigue."
Innovyz general manager Tom Kenyon says the company specialises in taking research from the laboratory and moving to market.
"We're super excited to be working with QUT which has a great reputation in research and are very focussed on commercial outcomes," he says.
"Many researchers want their research to have impact and the quickest way to have impact is to bring that research to market."
Updated at 4:49pm AEST on 29 July 2020.
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