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Utica firm wins FuzeHub $50K grant to help pay for N95 mask production

By Eric Reinhardt (ereinhardt@cnybj.com)

Date:

UTICA, N.Y. — Environmental Composites, a Utica firm that specializes in advanced textile products, will use a $50,000 grant to help ramp up N95 mask production for health-care workers.

Albany–based nonprofit FuzeHub awarded the funding. It was among four grants totaling $300,000 that FuzeHub presented in its COVID-19 manufacturing grant program.

FuzeHub also awarded grants to businesses in Cohoes in Albany County, Willsboro in Essex County, and one in Brooklyn.

FuzeHub also announced that the Cornell Center for Materials Research (CCMR) will supplement its COVID-19 manufacturing grants with an additional $10,000 — $2,500 per project — to provide the winning manufacturers with more resources to “select, acquire and modify” materials and equipment necessary for their projects.

CCMR is a Cornell University research center dedicated to the development of advanced materials.

FuzeHub launched its COVID-19 manufacturing grants program to help New York–based, small to medium-sized manufacturing companies “quickly accelerate” production of personal protective equipment (PPE) and respiratory-care equipment.

The program focused on two tracks. The first, “prevent the spread,” awarded $50,000 grants to increase manufacturing capacity of N95 masks, and the second track, “save lives,” provided $100,000 grants to increase the state’s manufacturing capacity of ventilators.

“When New York State called for help, our manufacturing industry answered. Local manufacturers have been innovative, resourceful and courageous in addressing critical needs to combat the coronavirus,” Elena Garuc, executive director of FuzeHub, said in a statement. “The winners of FuzeHub’s COVID-19 Manufacturing Grants pivoted quickly and focused intensely on trying to solve some of the biggest problems our world has ever faced. Despite the magnitude of the challenge, these New York manufacturers stood tall and found a way to produce essential supplies that will help stop the spread of the virus and save lives.”

About Environmental Composites’ work

One of the “most critical” supply chain issues related to the N95 mask shortage is access to meltblown fabric, FuzeHub says.

Meltblown nonwovens are currently used to achieve the sub-micron particle filtration efficiency requirements. However, other textile-manufacturing methods can incorporate similar design principles, including electrostatic charge.

Environmental Composites’ design will use a needle punch nonwoven with a “tuned” electrostatic charge. Its operation boasts a capacity of 12 million masks per month and can produce a “complete mask,” per FuzeHub.

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