Skip to main content

Centre of Excellence in Protective Equipment and Materials (CEPEM)

The Centre of Excellence in Protective Equipment and Materials (CEPEM) will assist research and development needs for Canadian companies, both existing and new, so that they can meet today's needs for Canada but also develop the next generation of personnel protective equipment to become global leaders in the future. 

About CEPEM

The CEPEM was established in response to a call from Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) to start local manufacturing of face masks and face shields due to the anticipated supply chain breakdown in March of 2020 caused by COVID-19. In just over a month, the CEPEM team provided design, identified suitable materials and developed validation tests so that local manufacturers are now producing 20,000 face shields/day (Whitebird) and 20,000 masks/day (Niko apparel) to supply HHS. In this process, the centre has also developed a testing facility that can assess various filtration materials for breathability (pressure drop), particulate filtration efficiency (PFE), bacterial filtration efficiency (BFE) and fit testing.

Hamilton Health Sciences

Hamilton Health Sciences

Whitebird

Whitebird

The Woodbridge Group

The Woodbridge Group

Niko Apparel Systems

Niko Apparel Systems

Due to shut down of access to test facilities in the US for Canadian companies, we have served as a much needed resource for Canadian companies in validating their materials for use in face mask.

For example, we have worked closely with Woodbridge, providing them guidance on certification process and testing their material combinations to identify the best one for level 3 surgical masks. Woodbridge has now obtained formal Health Canada approval and has started producing these masks in their facilities in Ontario.

Our Vision

Our vision is to create the next generation of personnel protective equipment to become global leaders. The funding will establish the center as a core facility to assist the large number of new companies that are being setup in Canada to design and develop PPEs, choose appropriate materials and their combinations as well as develop and provide advanced technology that will make them leaders in the world.

Research and Development

To assist with the research and development needs for Canadian companies, both existing and new, so that they can meet today’s demand for PPE in Canada.

Global Leader in PPE

To create the next generation of personnel protective equipment to become global leaders. Taken together, this collection of infrastructure and projects will be unique not only in Canada but also in the rest of world.

Thematic Areas

The activities of the center are focused on the following thematic areas:

1. Design and development of PPE

1. Design and development of PPE

Existing PPEs such as face mask and face shields were not specifically designed for medical use and have dated designs that don’t incorporate latest advance in materials and manufacturing technologies. We will design and develop the next generation PPE that are customizable to the individual’s facial features, use the latest functional materials and incorporate the needs and requirements of medical professionals. We will also develop reusable PPEs that are capable of being sterilized and reused making them green and reusable.

2. Advanced Manufacturing

2. Advanced Manufacturing

We will work with Canadian manufacturers of PPEs in automation of operations for PPE manufacturing. In addition, we will also develop new manufacturing processes for meltblown, meltspun and electrospun materials to produce functional hybrid composites that will enable high performance PPEs. Small-scale prototyping equipment for melt blowing, meltspinning and electrospinning will form a core facility within the center.

3. Functional Materials

3. Functional Materials

The properties and performance of the PPEs are ultimately dependent on the materials used. Existing PPEs use commodity polymers such as polypropylene and polyethylene. We will assist new Canadian manufacturers of non-wovens to identify suitable polymer blends and additives that can provide additional functional properties such as antimicrobial, antiviral, self cleaning, air purifying, pathogen and chemical sensing, active water and blood repelling, humidity and thermal control.

4. Testing and validation

4. Testing and validation

A core facility within the center will be a well validated and robust testing facility that will be capable to performing assessment on barrier properties (air flow resistance, particulate and bacterial filtration efficiency, quantitative fit testing, aerosol distribution visualization), mechanical integrity (tensile, bulge, adhesion, pull, flexural and fatigue) and materials properties (microscopic structure, pore size, fiber uniformity, composition, leaching, degradation). This facility will serve as a resource not only for academic research but also for the local industry.

5. Standards

5. Standards

Current standards for PPEs such as facemasks of face shields are not intended or specifically designed with their medical use in mind. We will work with national agencies to define Canadian and international standards for testing of PPEs. In particular, we will focus on the medical use and collaborate with medical colleagues to formulate standards that would assess performance of PPEs under medically relevant conditions.

6. Sustainability

6. Sustainability

PPEs currently used are mostly disposable due to the fear of contamination between uses. However, being manufactured from polymers obtained from fossil fuels and incinerated after a single use, they contribute to greenhouse gases and eventually climate change. We will develop PPEs using natural polymers such as cellulose and with biodegradable properties that can avoid use of fossil fuels in their manufacture and limit their contribution to climate change.

Dr. P. Ravi Selvaganapathy

Dr. P. Ravi Selvaganapathy

Executive Director

Dr. Rakesh Sahu

Dr. Rakesh Sahu

Director of Operation

Dr.Nidhi Jain

Dr.Nidhi Jain

Laboratory Manager

njain@mcmaster.ca

Tanaya Khanna

Tanaya Khanna

Research Technologist

khannt1@mcmaster.ca

 

Dr. MD Farhad Ismail

Dr. MD Farhad Ismail

Post Doctoral Fellow

ismaim29@mcmaster.ca

Michael Davidson

Michael Davidson

 Laboratory Technologist

davidm38@mcmaster.ca

Mukesh Singh

Mukesh Singh

Research Assistant

singm38@mcmaster.ca

Heera Marway

Heera Marway

Research Coordinator

marwayhs@mcmaster.ca

Mymoon W. Bhuiyan

Mymoon W. Bhuiyan

Lab Assistant

bhuiym6@mcmaster.ca

P. Ravi Selvaganapathy

P. Ravi Selvaganapathy

Mechanical Engineering / 1. Design and development of PPE, 2. Advanced Manufacturing, 3. Functional Materials, 4. Testing and validation, 5. Standards, 6. Sustainability

David Latulippe

David Latulippe

Chemical Engineering / 3. Functional Materials, 4. Testing and validation, 5. Standards

Charles de Lannoy

Charles de Lannoy

Chemical Engineering / 3. Functional Materials, 4. Testing and validation, 5. Standards

Zeinab Hosseinidoust

Zeinab Hosseinidoust

Chemical Engineering / 3. Functional Materials, 4. Testing and validation, 5. Standards

Chan Y. Ching

Chan Y. Ching

Mechanical Engineering / 1. Design and development of PPE, 2. Advanced Manufacturing, 3. Functional Materials, 4. Testing and validation

John Preston

John Preston

Engineering Physics / 3. Functional Materials, 4. Testing and validation, 5. Standards, 6. Sustainability

Stephen C. Veldhuis

Stephen C. Veldhuis

Mechanical Engineering / 2. Advanced Manufacturing, 4. Testing and validation

Todd Hoare

Todd Hoare

Chemical Engineering / 2. Advanced Manufacturing, 3. Functional Materials, 6. Sustainability

Benzhong (Robin) Zhao

Benzhong (Robin) Zhao

Civil Engineering / 4. Testing and validation, 5. Standards

Nabil Bassim

Nabil Bassim

Materials Science and Engineering / 2. Advanced Manufacturing, 3. Functional Materials

Jamal Deen

Jamal Deen

Electrical Engineering / 1. Design and development of PPE, 2. Advanced Manufacturing

Igor Zhitomirsky

Igor Zhitomirsky

Materials Science and Engineering / 3. Functional Materials, 6. Sustainability

Qiyin Fang

Qiyin Fang

Engineering Physics / 1. Design and development of PPE, 2. Advanced Manufacturing

Kathryn Grandfield

Kathryn Grandfield

Materials Science and Engineering / 2. Advanced Manufacturing, 3. Functional Materials

Michael Noseworthy

Michael Noseworthy

Electrical Engineering / 1. Design and development of PPE, 2. Advanced Manufacturing

Michael Thompson

Michael Thompson

Chemical Engineering / 2. Advanced Manufacturing, 3. Functional Materials, 4. Testing and validation, 6. Sustainability

Li Xi

Li Xi

Chemical Engineering / 2. Advanced Manufacturing, 6. Sustainability

Wael El-Dakhakhni

Wael El-Dakhakhni

Civil Engineering / 4. Testing and validation, 5. Standards

James S. Cotton

James S. Cotton

Mechanical Engineering / 2. Advanced Manufacturing, 3. Functional Materials

Cheryl Quenneville

Cheryl Quenneville

Mechanical Engineering / 4. Testing and validation, 5. Standards

Imran Satia

Imran Satia

Medicine, St. Joesph Healthcare

 1. Design and development of PPE, 5. Standards

Catherine Clase

Catherine Clase

Medicine, Hamilton Health Sciences

 1. Design and development of PPE, 5. Standards

Mohamed Eltorki

Mohamed Eltorki

Medicine, Hamilton Health Sciences

 1. Design and development of PPE, 5. Standards

Prathiba Harsha

Prathiba Harsha

Research Development and Innovation, Hamilton Health Sciences

4. Testing and validation, 5. Standards

Bryan Herechuk

Bryan Herechuk

Hamilton Health Sciences

4. Testing and validation, 5. Standards

Bryan Herechuk

Bryan Herechuk

Hamilton Health Sciences

4. Testing and validation, 5. Standards

Myrna Dolovich

Myrna Dolovich

Medicine,  St. Joseph’s Health Care

1. Design and development of PPE, 5. Standards

Alison Fox-Robichaud

Alison Fox-Robichaud

Medicine, Hamilton Health Sciences

2. Advanced Manufacturing, 3. Functional Materials

Joe Hayward

Joe Hayward

Medical Physics, Hamilton Health Sciences

2. Advanced Manufacturing, 3. Functional Materials

Facilities

<b>Particle Filtration Efficiency Tester</b>

Particle Filtration Efficiency Tester

The custom built setup is used to measure the initial particle filtration efficiency of materials used in medical facemasks using a dispersion of latex microparticles.

<b>Autoclave 40L, Bench Top</b>

Autoclave 40L, Bench Top

The autoclave uses high pressure steam to kill bacteria, viruses, fungi, and spores, allowing equipment and liquids to be sterilized.

<b>Breath Simulation Module</b>

Breath Simulation Module

Particle Filtration Efficiency tester is used to detect the filtration efficiency of various medical and daily PPE equipment

<b>Bacterial Filtration Efficiency Tester</b>

Bacterial Filtration Efficiency Tester

The bacterial filtration efficiency test setup (QT-FMBF2100) is used to determine the BFE of medical face mask materials or the face mask as a whole by challenging an aerosol of bacterial suspension onto the samples.

<b>Handheld Particle Counter</b>

Handheld Particle Counter

The MET ONE HHPC 6+ is a full-featured six channel handheld particle counter designed for a wide range of tasks in high technology cleanroom manufacturing environments such as semiconductor or flat panel display manufacturing.

<b> Biological Safety Cabinets </b>

Biological Safety Cabinets

NU-540-400 NuAire LabGard Class II Type biological safety cabinets are enclosed, ventilated workspaces that allow for sterile conditions to be maintained when working with biohazardous materials such as pathogens.

<b>PortaCount 8048</b>

PortaCount 8048

The PortaCount Fit Tester provides a consistent and objective testing experience across all respirator types, including all N95 filtering facepieces. Fit check mode shows in real-time how respirator fit changes throughout donning and adjustment, helping users select the right mask and identify the best fit faster.

<b>TSI 8130A Automated Filter Tester</b>

TSI 8130A Automated Filter Tester

The Automated Filter Tester Model 8130A is the best solution for testing penetration or filter efficiency and pressure drop of particulate respirator filters, disposable filtering face pieces, and a wide assortment of filter media. It can generate salt or oil test aerosol and uses high sensitivity photometers to determine the filtration efficiency or penetration. The pressure drop is measured with a top-of-the-line pressure transducer

<b>Thermogravimetric Analyzer</b>

Thermogravimetric Analyzer

Q5000 IR Autosampler is used to measure the change in mass of a sample over time as the temperature changes and provide information about phase transition, absorption, thermal decomposition and solid-gas reactions.

<b>Environental chamber SCP-220</b>

Environental chamber SCP-220

The programmable chamber is capable to maintain desired temperature and humidity.

<b>High Speed Camera</b>

High Speed Camera

Chronos 2.1-HD is a self-contained, handheld, high-speed camera made to capture 1080p cinematic quality images. The Chronos 2.1-HD can shoot 1,000 fps at its maximum resolution and up to 24,046 fps at lower resolutions. Four different user-friendly recording modes enable high-speed imagery ideal for industrial and scientific research applications

<b>EVOS XL  Inverted Microscope</b>

EVOS XL Inverted Microscope

The Invitrogen EVOS XL core imaging system is a fully automated, digital, inverted imaging system. The system is designed for a broad range of transmitted light applications including time-lapse imaging, manual-assist cell counting, and image review.

<b>Multi-Mode Spectrophotometer</b>

Multi-Mode Spectrophotometer

The SpectraMax® M2e Multi-Mode Microplate Reader are dual monochromator, multi-detection instruments with a triple-mode cuvette port and a 6-well to 384-well plate read capability.

<b>SurPASS 3 Electrokinetic analyzer </b>

SurPASS 3 Electrokinetic analyzer

SurPASS 3 is a fully automated zeta potential analyzer for solid surfaces. As electrokinetic analyzers, they employ the classic streaming potential and streaming current method for a direct analysis of the surface zeta potential.

<b>Innovenso NE300 Electrospinner</b>

Innovenso NE300 Electrospinner

NE300 is a lab-scale electrospinning device used to create electrospun nonwovens using polymer solutions. Electrospinning is a versatile method of forming nanofibers using a high voltage electric field that stretches the polymer solution into thin fibers. It has a 9-nozzle feeding unit along with basic cylindrical and plate collectors that allow for a wide range of membrane geometries to be produced from polymers.

<b>MeltBlowing</b>

MeltBlowing

The modular meltblowing unit is designed to vary the process conditions effectively and create nonwovens with varying fiber diameters and gsm.

<b>Novaspider Prolab3D Melt Electrowriter</b>

Novaspider Prolab3D Melt Electrowriter

Prolab3D melt electrowriter enables forming scaffolds for tissue engineering applications in a chamber with controlled temperature and humidity. Extrusion techniques combined with high voltage electric field allows the user to control the fiber diameter on demand.

<b>Ball Mill</b>

Ball Mill

MM500 nano is designed for the crushing, grinding, mixing and homogenisation of wet and dry soft, medium-hard, fibrous and brittle materials with an initial particle size of up to 10 mm.

<b>Solution Blowing</b>

Solution Blowing

Solution blowing is used to create nonwovens using polymer that may degrade at high temperatures but can dissolve in a solvent. The high velocity air stream combined with a high voltage electric field is used to create nanometer sized fibers.

<b>Aerosol Jet </b>

Aerosol Jet

Optomec Aerosol Jet 300 is used to develop next generation printed electronics, biologics processes and products by supporting wide variety of materials including conductive inks, polymers, adhesives, pastes and etchants.

Lab Access and Training

General Information

The CEPEM has in-house health and safety procedures that are mandatory for individuals to access the facility independently.

CEPEM Lab Safety and Training

Individuals must complete specific McMaster Safety Training and other CEPEM requirements to become CEPEM users.

Step 1: McMaster Safety Training

In order to access the CEPEM you must have completed the trainings listed in the CEPEM safety training matrix. Click here to view training module.

To see your training  , please head to mosaic. From Mosaic home screen , click on regulatory training and click on training summary. Compare your training to the training matrix to ensure you can access CEPEM.

If you are missing training you can enroll in training from regulatory training screen in mosaic.

Take a screen shot of the training summary, and paste the summary in a *.doc or *.pdf to submit in part 3.

Step 2: Fill out the CEPEM training forums

Fill out the CEPEM Forums for access, and after hours access (if applicable). Ensure that your supervisor has also signed off on the access forum.

Click this box to access the forums.

Step 3: Submit the forums

Ensure to email the forums and the training summary to Dr. Nidhi Jain (njain@mcmaster.ca)

Step 4: Create a Q- Reserve account

Login into Q – Reserve using your Mac ID and search for CEPEM. From here you will be able to book time on lab equipment. Click this box to go to Q-Reserve.

CEPEM in the News

McMaster opens Centre of Excellence to advance personal protective equipment in Canada

June 29, 2020

McMaster opens Centre of Excellence to advance personal protective equipment in Canada

The Centre of Excellence in Protective Equipment and Materials is a network of engineers, clinicians, manufacturers and companies dedicated to improving personal protective equipment products and supply chains in Canada.

McMaster Centre of Excellence receives $1.2M to advance Canadian-made personal protective equipment

January 26, 2021

McMaster Centre of Excellence receives $1.2M to advance Canadian-made personal protective equipment

Canada’s first and only research hub dedicated to developing, testing and validating personal protective equipment (PPE) is receiving a $1.2M grant from the Ontario Together Fund, announced today by the Government of Ontario.

To prevent millions more masks in landfills, McMaster researchers develop a way to recycle them

February 3, 2021

To prevent millions more masks in landfills, McMaster researchers develop a way to recycle them

McMaster's Centre of Excellence in Protective Equipment and Materials (CEPEM) and B.C.-based Vitacore launch Canada's first end-to-end recycling program for single-use masks and respirators.

McMaster researchers collaborate on N95 respirator made and approved in Canada

September 29, 2020

McMaster researchers collaborate on N95 respirator made and approved in Canada

A team of engineers, scientists and manufacturers from private industry and McMaster University have successfully created an N95 respirator made and approved for sale in Canada.

In the Media: Is it time to upgrade your cloth mask?

September 3, 2021 / Source: The Toronto Star

In the Media: Is it time to upgrade your cloth mask?

Dr. Catherine Clase, an associate professor of medicine at McMaster and researcher at the university’s Centre of Excellence in Protective Equipment and Materials (CEPEM), weighs in.

How McMaster engineers are paving the way for new standards for medical masks in Canada

May 1, 2020

How McMaster engineers are paving the way for new standards for medical masks in Canada

Researchers at McMaster Engineering are rigorously testing surgical and N95 mask designs in innovative ways. Their goals? To equip the public with more protective masks, and ultimately create better masks for the next generation.

In the Media: McMaster University Partners with Industry to Improve PPE

March 9, 2021

In the Media: McMaster University Partners with Industry to Improve PPE

McMaster's Centre of Excellence in Protective Equipment and Materials is named one of Canada's most innovative partnerships in a campaign seen in The National Post. Since March 2020, CEPEM has helped to develop superior, Canadian-made PPE.

The road to making one million face shields: MMRI partners with Whitebird

October 21, 2020

The road to making one million face shields: MMRI partners with Whitebird

In episode six of the Big Ideas for a Changing World podcast, hear how the McMaster Manufacturing Research Institute (MMRI) and Hamilton-based packaging company, Whitebird, teamed up to swiftly produce face shields for thousands of Canadian frontline workers during the pandemic.

What PPE experts want you to know about cloth face masks

December 14, 2020

What PPE experts want you to know about cloth face masks

In Episode 9 of Big Ideas for a Changing World, four experts from McMaster’s Centre of Excellence in Protective Equipment and Materials (CEPEM) answer frequently asked questions about cloth masks, and how they’re working with industry partners to improve the next generation of PPE in Canada.

In the Media: What should the PPE of the future look like? This McMaster University team wants to provide the answers

August 24, 2020 / Source: The Toronto Star

In the Media: What should the PPE of the future look like? This McMaster University team wants to provide the answers

A feature on McMaster's Centre of Excellence in Protective Equipment and Materials (CEPEM) on the front page of The Toronto Star.

McMaster Engineering launches podcast on innovation during COVID-19

July 6, 2020

McMaster Engineering launches podcast on innovation during COVID-19

Big Ideas for a Changing World is now available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts and on your browser. The show is hosted by John Preston, Associate Dean of Research and External Relations in the Faculty of Engineering.

In the Media: COVID-19 face masks represent a chance to restore Canadian manufacturing

January 10, 2021 / Source: The Conversation

In the Media: COVID-19 face masks represent a chance to restore Canadian manufacturing

Though the pandemic has become the world’s dominant health concern, it may catalyze recovery from some of the economic consequences of globalization, writes Ravi Selvaganapathy, director of McMaster's Centre of Excellence in Protective Equipment and Materials (CEPEM).

Top 10 McMaster Engineering stories to remember from 2020

December 22, 2020

Top 10 McMaster Engineering stories to remember from 2020

It was a year of uniting in the face of unprecedented challenges. As we take time to reflect, here are some particularly memorable stories from this challenging and unpredictable year.

In the Media: Polypropylene, the material now recommended for COVID-19 mask filters: What it is, where to get it

November 19, 2020 / Source: The Conversation

In the Media: Polypropylene, the material now recommended for COVID-19 mask filters: What it is, where to get it

With masks being made at home and by local clothing companies, here’s what you need to know about Public Health Agency of Canada’s new recommendations. Charles de Lannoy, an assistant professor in Chemical Engineering, co-wrote this piece in The Conversation.

In the Media: B.C. facility partners with McMaster Engineering to produce N95-equivalent masks

September 28, 2020 / Source: Global News

In the Media: B.C. facility partners with McMaster Engineering to produce N95-equivalent masks

McMaster researchers Rakesh Sahu and Ravi Selvaganapathy from the Centre of Excellence in Protective Equipment and Materials are part of a team that created the first Canadian made N95 respirators.

McMaster researchers rally to help Canadian company expedite new mask to meet urgent COVID-19 demand

April 8, 2020 / Source: Brighter World

McMaster researchers rally to help Canadian company expedite new mask to meet urgent COVID-19 demand

Engineering and medical researchers at McMaster University have been racing to assist Woodbridge Foam Corporation in getting a new made-in-Canada mask designed, tested and certified, as supplies of existing medical masks become less certain.

Partnership between McMaster Engineering and Niko Apparel builds made-in-Hamilton mask capability

September 1, 2021

Partnership between McMaster Engineering and Niko Apparel builds made-in-Hamilton mask capability

A desperate bid to provide masks to Hamilton healthcare workers has launched a successful local mask manufacturer and given birth to a McMaster centre of excellence.

MacEng arms the frontlines with masks: Faculty, students create protective equipment for healthcare workers

April 1, 2020

MacEng arms the frontlines with masks: Faculty, students create protective equipment for healthcare workers

McMaster engineers, physicians, students and industry partners join forces to create timely solutions to the high demand for more personal protective equipment (PPE) for frontline workers. In the first part of the "MacEng arms the frontlines" series, we take a look at masks.

In the media: \'Brutal education:\' Inside the mad rush to make masks to battle COVID-19

April 3, 2020 / Source: Financial Post

In the media: 'Brutal education:' Inside the mad rush to make masks to battle COVID-19

Financial Post story chronicles how McMaster engineers are working “24/7” to churn out a product that up until two weeks ago they had no expertise in

In the Media: Province gifts McMaster $1.2M for PPE development

January 26, 2021 / Source: The Hamilton Spectator

In the Media: Province gifts McMaster $1.2M for PPE development

McMaster's Centre of Excellence in Protective Equipment and Materials (CEPEM) receives funding from the Ontario Together Fund, announced on Jan. 26 by Ministers Victor Fedeli and Ross Romano, with an appearance from Premier Doug Ford.

Contact Us

 Dr. P. Ravi Selvaganapathy

Dr. P. Ravi Selvaganapathy

Distinguished Engineering Professor, Canada Research Chair in Biomicrofluidics (laureate)

Co-Director  - McMaster School of Biomedical Engineering

selvaga@mcmaster.ca

Dr.Rakesh Sahu

Dr.Rakesh Sahu

Adjunct Assistant Professor in Materials Science and Engineering

sahur@mcmaster.ca