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01 Sep 2019 - 30 Sep 2020 Science

Development of Electrospun biodegradable polymeric membranes functionalized with nanoparticles for potential application in CBRNe protection

The growing demand for individual protection for soldiers and the development of increasingly capable armaments mean that research into defense systems and personal protective equipment is also advancing.

In this context comes the chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive defense (CBRNe). In an attack of a CBRNe nature, the individual protection equipment (PPE) to be used must present active or passive protection against harmful agents in order to ensure the defense of the user.

In relation to radiological and nuclear defense, and due to the nature of the agents involved, it is extremely difficult to produce effective solutions. In this way, the developed PPE presents protection only for chemical and biological agents and only for their adsorption, that is, they offer a passive barrier. However, it is extremely important to develop PPE that, in addition to having this adsorption capacity, can detect and at the same time degrading agents, in order to allow active protection.

The micro / nanofibers produced by electrospinning are presented as one of the most interesting structures for the development of protective fabrics. The inclusion of this type of fiber in textiles can substantially improve its overall performance and user comfort, reducing the weight of the equipment and improving or maintaining breathability (essential factors for a military on the battlefield). They also have unique characteristics, namely a high surface area and the possibility of incorporating active substances allowing the achievement of several innovative properties.

In this way, the project consists, in a first phase, in the optimization of biodegradable polymer formulations for the subsequent development by electrospinning of micro / nanofiber membranes. These membranes will also be functionalized with graphene nanoplatelets in order to obtain systems with greater capacity for adsorption of chemical and biological agents as well as the possible ability to actively degrade them, increasing the effectiveness of personal protection systems against chemical and biological agents.

In addition, these membranes may have electrical properties essential for the detection and monitoring of CBRNe agents.

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