Wool fiber technology provides performance advantages in Helix filter media

Wool Fiber Material
Wool fiber-based filter media builds a compelling consumer story around natural materials and sustainability. Photo courtesy of Lanaco.

Lanaco has been developing air filter technology based on wool fiber science since 2010. Lanaco’s Helix filter technology uses wool as a key ingredient in creating nonwoven filter media, which provides high filtration efficiency with a low pressure drop.

Helix filter media is currently used in various respiratory protection and general ventilation applications, including facemasks, respirators, and in commercial and home ventilation.

The use of wool means that the fibers present in the filter media have bacteriostatic and hydrophobic capabilities, alongside passive absorption of certain VOCs while in use.

An anti-pollution facemask developed using Lanaco Helix filter media as the key filtration component. Photo courtesy of Lanaco.

Lanaco manufactures electrostatic filter media at a range of weights which allow for a high dust capture capacity to be achieved, which makes it appropriate for use in functions which require the filter to carry a large quantity of pollutants before it becomes clogged.

Initial application of the technology is filters for EN 143 and AS/NZS 1716 standards for P2 level respirator cartridges. This experience led to ever-increasing performance levels and the development of thinner media to reach effective applications in disposable respirators, which in turn have proven to be ideal use cases to diversify into even more challenging applications.

When the wool-based Helix filter is added as a pre-filter on a respirator cartridge used in an emergency fire situation, it extends the lifetime of an emergency breathing device substantially by both tolerating the hot particles and allowing a larger amount of particulate matter to be collected.

Training at NASA’s Johnson Space Center using emergency breathing devices. Photo courtesy of NASA Spinoff and the European Space Agency

One specific use case of the Helix filter media involves PPE for the space industry. Lanaco worked with a contractor for NASA in providing a pre-filter structure that extends the lifetime of emergency respirator cartridge filters in a contaminant- and moisture-rich environment. In this application, a fire would result in the release of hot molten plastic and electronics components before water is used to extinguish the flames. This combination of molten particles mixed with water will immediately clog the glass fiber filter media inside the P100 filters, shortening their service life by requiring them to be replaced very quickly. When the wool-based Helix filter is added on as pre-filters, it extends the lifetime of the cartridge filter substantially by both tolerating the hot particles and allowing a larger amount of particulate matter to be collected. In addition, the hydrophobic characteristics of the Helix filter media mean that water captured does not form a film that would increase the resistance of the filter.

In medical respirators and masks, the technology allows for low pressure drops, which in turn further enhance the face fit and seal of the device, providing more effective protection experienced under COVID-19 conditions. Lanaco’s Helix filter media passes the ASTM F3502 Barrier Face Coverings standard at a Level 2 rating for both breathability and efficiency, which makes it the optimal filter material for use in reducing the spread of COVID-19.

Lanaco technology is built around a deep understanding of the science of the wool fiber.
Photo courtesy of The Woolmark Company.

3 key features

Unique fiber technology derived from wool

Lanaco invested early in the science of breeding sheep to a wool production objective. Named Astino, the result is a fiber which specifically meets the needs of respiratory filtration.

Low pressure drop and high breathability

Helix media achieves extremely good quality factor performance which is best leveraged to give high-efficiency filtration at the lowest resistance. The enhanced electrostatic performance of the Astino wool fiber drives the performance of the Helix media.

Additional functionality

The natural fiber base adds significant functionality to the filter media, which can be leveraged to different applications. These include fire resistance, toxin and volatiles absorption, and hydrophobicity.


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