Acteev Protect improved the protection for face masks.
Acteev Protect improved the protection for face masks.

Ascend Performance Materials has introduced Acteev Protect, a breakthrough technology specially formulated to guard against the growth of mildew, fungi and other microbes to keep textiles and nonwoven fabrics fresher for longer.

The technology is an improvement of protection for face masks, apparel, upholstery, air filters and more. Ascend accelerated the product launch by partnering with independent labs for testing and reallocating resources to scale up production.

“Bacteria, mildew and other microbes growing on fabrics and filters cause the item to break down, discolor and give off unpleasant smells,” said Lu Zhang, Ph.D., Ascend’s vice president leading the Acteev launch. “Acteev Protect guards against that microbial growth, keeping the articles clean.”

Acteev Protect combines zinc ion technology with polyamide-based woven, nonwoven and knit fabrics. The active zinc ions are embedded into the polymer matrix, providing a long-lasting solution that does not wash away, unlike topical finishes or coatings.

The polyamide fabrics are durable yet soft to the skin, and the nonwoven filtration media – available as nanofibers, meltblown and spunbond – efficiently keep out unwanted particles.

“Zinc is an essential element needed for bacterial growth, so bacteria readily allows it inside the cell body. But the zinc ion outcompetes other essential elements such as manganese and magnesium and chokes their ingestion channels,” said Vikram Gopal, Ph.D., Ascend’s senior vice president of technology. “Without those minerals, the microbes can’t grow or reproduce.”

Other products use silver as an antimicrobial, but that metal comes with unwanted environmental consequences. "The process is water-intensive, and the excess silver has to be disposed of, eventually ending up in our waterways." stated Dr. Gopal. Zinc, however, is labeled Generally Regarded as Safe by the US Food and Drug Administration.

Additionally, the fabrics feature all the benefits of premium polyamides, which offer more comfort than polypropylene in single-use masks and allows knits and wovens to be dyed, printed on and laundered.

Polyamide 66 wovens and knits have considerable advantages over other types of nylons in garments and other textile applications, said Harrie Schoots, president-elect of the American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists and a senior business leader of Ascend’s textile business.

“This material resists abrasion and doesn’t pill or shed microfibers. It can be dyed solid or bright colors,” Schoots said. “Uniforms or activewear made with Acteev Protect will be durable and comfortable and can be designed to match current color trends.”

Additionally, these features will last the lifetime of the garment. “Because the zinc ions are embedded during the polymerization process, knit and woven articles made with Acteev Protect stand up to 50 washes or more,” Schoots concluded.