The 2019 wildfires in Australia, followed almost immediately by Covid-19 in 2020 led to soaring demand for disposable PPE respirators across Australasia, and then the world. By early 2020 there were none available anywhere as stocks became depleted and importers scrambled to find anything. At the same time New Zealand filter manufacturer Lanaco was the only manufacturer of filter media in the region producing a product capable of meeting AS/NZS 1716 P2 levels of filtration – the downunder equivalent of EN149 FFP2. This technology, based on unique wool fibre science, was being commercially deployed in EN143 industrial respirator canisters for European and Australasian half face respirators, and consumer urban air pollution masks.
Their response to the increased demand was the creation of a range of new certified PPE respirators using its high performance Helix™ wool based filter technology. They built a high volume mask manufacturing capability supported by its exiting filter testing and validation capability an did this in double quick time, in addition to upgrading their quality systems from ISO9001 to ISO13485 for medical device manufacture.
The big difference between Lanaco and any other mask makers around the world was the exceptional Helix™ filter technology they had refined over preceding years. The Helix™ technology had been selected by NASA in 2019 for emergency escape hood filtration for critical life support on the current Artemis manned moon missions. In this application under challenge from hot toxic particulates, and water mist and droplets, the technology uniquely extended the operating window of the HEPA filters on the devices nearly sevenfold. In a situation so critical it is a credit to the filter technology to provide this level of protection in the space capsule – which at $35bn is the most expensive vehicle in the history of mankind.
Application to critical situations
Meanwhile as Covid spread severely impacting efficiency and systems in most industries, one in particular had a big problem. High voltage live lines servicing for national electrical infrastructure servicing requires two linesmen in a cherry picker, either two metres apart, or full masked. Linesmen had to be masked, and the masks needed to be arc flash tolerant. Lanaco quickly developed a product – called the Sparky Mask which was a metal free, arc flash resistant close fitting mask with a great filter. Problem solved.
From sparks to fires
A natural development of the Sparky Mask was therefore the WAIRE P2 Fire+ mask, a new concept in certified respirator designed for rural wildfire protection, which could be provided in a valved or non-valved configuration – providing high efficiency with the already proven greatest comfort, ease of breathing and great tolerance for simultaneous sparks and water mist. Unlike synthetic polymer filters which under spark conditions will melt, and under water conditions will clog, wool fibres are well known to be fire safe and hydrophobic, allowing them to naturally deliver high performance.
The new WAIRE P2 Fire+ product was released by Lanaco in June 2022 at Interschutz in Hanover, Germany. Lanaco is currently seeking distributors for its specialist PPE products across Australasia, as it develops new variants for European and North American standards.
Helix™ technology is also known as EcoStatic™ technology in some countries.
For more information, go to www.lanacotech.com