Challenge 1

New Biomass-Based Materials and Manufacturing Technologies for Rapid Mass Production of Inexpensive Face Masks Effective Against Viral Agents

Most of the world’s face masks are currently made in China and Taiwan. But factories there have been forced to temporarily halt exports to meet local demands within those countries. Canada must therefore create ways to use one of its most abundant natural resources, woody biomass from its harvested trees, to mass produce effective low-cost face masks for our citizens.

The focus of this challenge is therefore to provide ideas for novel sheeted-filter materials derived from biomass that can protect against COVID-19 inhalation, and/or processes that would allow existing paper-making plants to rapidly re-purpose their manufacturing lines to mass-produce fibre-based sheeted filters deployable in face masks.

Who Can Compete: All 2nd-Year UG Students
What and Where Do You Submit: A PDF proposal and engineering justification of no more than 5 pages
When is it Due: May 15, 2020 by 5 pm
To Whom Do I submit: Mark Martinez ( and new Professor Johan Foster (
What is the Prize: $100 VISA gift card