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|Non-medical Applications for Coaxial Electrospinning|
In past issues of this newsletter, we introduced the reader to a variety of medical and biomedical applications that benefit from coaxial electrospinning.1 Our goal in this issue is to detail six non-medical applications where our coaxial spinnerets are used.
1. Air filtration has become increasingly important in the era of COVID-19. Air filters used in airplanes and commercial buildings are being scrutinized for their capacity to prevent the spread of the virus in public spaces. Face masks are also critical during a pandemic. Electrospinning techniques can be used to produce high performance filtering media. Large particles that are greater in size than the pore size can be captured by sieving. Smaller particles can be captured by various other mechanisms. Coaxial electrospinning has a great potential it improve air filtering methods. For example, the shell material could be PVC or some other highly hydrophobic and chemically resistant material while the core material could contribute mechanical toughness. For personal protection equipment (PPE), electrospun nanofibers have an average surface area a thousand times greater that microfibers and pores that are four to 100 times smaller. This makes electrospun nanofibers an ideal material for N95 face masks.
2. Water filtration is more demanding than air filtration as the flow pressure is much greater. Microfiltration systems focus on filtering out microparticles that can be under 1 micron and as large as 10 microns. Heat treatments are often used on the electrospun nonwoven membranes in order improve their mechanical and dimensional integrity. Particles under 0.1 microns in size can be filtered out using ultrafiltration and nanofiltration systems. Researchers in Taiwan have shown how coaxial electrospinning can be used to produce core/shell fibers that resist fouling and can be made used to produce mats that exhibit low surface energy.2
3. Nanocomposite electrospun fibers are also being made into corrosion-resistant coatings for metal. Researchers in Spain, for example, have found that producing electrospun nanofibers from PVC and ZnO nanoparticles (ZnO is a corrosion inhibitor), a coating can be made about 100 µm thick and applied to 6061 Aluminum.3 The result is a surface with much lower surface energy. The hydrophobic PVC and the corrosion fighting properties of the ZnO can be optimized by adjusting the flow rate and voltage used to produce the electrospun fibers as well as the temperature and duration of the heat treatment. The result is a highly effective hydrophobic corrosion-resistant coating.
4. We already mentioned how air filtration can benefit commercial aviation (see item 1 above). In addition, there are other aviation applications where coaxial electrospun fibers offer potential improvement over existing methods. Most notably, advances in carbon fiber technology has led to materials that are superior in terms of mechanical, thermal, and electrical properties. Brazilian researchers have made carbon nanotubes and nanofibers which are used as reinforcements in polymer composites used in aviation applications.4 There are a variety of additional novel studies that show how single and coaxial electrospun materials can benefit material design for aviation due to its lightweight and high strength properties.
5. In addition, aviation applications can also benefit from the electrospun sound-absorbing materials. At Wichita State University, researchers discovered that nanofibers made by electrospinning greatly improved noise reduction in aircraft interiors.5 The success of this method can be attributed to the higher surface area of the nanofibers compared to traditional sound deadening materials. Phonix, made in New Zealand by RevolutionFibres, is an example of an electrospun product that greatly increases the surface area in a very dense and lightweight package to offer superior sound attenuation.6 Coaxial electrospun nanofibers made of a polymer shell and a non-Newtonian polyethylene fluid core have proven to offer excellent mechanical and sound dampening properties.7
6. One of the most exciting applications for coaxial electrospinning is self-healing material. Researchers at the University of Illinois have proposed a polymer coating used to protect surfaces which is made of electrospun core/shell fibers.8 When the nanomaterial is damaged, the core material which is a curing agent leaks out and heals the damaged area. This is an example of biomimicry.
If you are working any application that may benefit from coaxial electrospinning, we can make a spinneret to your exacting specifications. To get started, visit this page. We are hoping to feature whatever you develop using coaxial electrospinning in a future newsletter. So, be sure to let us know what you're working on.
1 See our
Winter 2020 issue for more on electrospun nanobandages. See our
Fall 2018 issue for more on portale electrospinning devices. See our
Spring 2017 issue for more on a variety of other medical
applications where electrospinning is used.
Since our last edition of The Spinneret, we've added and organized our
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