Nature-Inspired Heat and Moisture Exchanger Filters Composed of Gelatin and Chitosan for the Design of Eco-Sustainable “Artificial Noses”

Elisabetta Campodoni, Chiara Artusi, Brais Vazquez Iglesias, Alessia Nicosia, Franco Belosi, Alberta Vandini, Paolo Monticelli, Anna Tampieri, Monica Sandri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


For long-term mechanical ventilation, during anesthesia or intensive care, it is crucial to preserve a minimum level of humidity to avoid damage to the respiratory epithelium. Heat and moisture exchange filters (HME), also called “artificial noses,” are passive systems that contribute to delivering inspired gases at about the same conditions of healthy respiration, i.e., 32 °C and relative humidity higher than 90%. Current HME devices suffer from limitations linked either to performance and filtration efficiency to their inadequate antibacterial efficiency, sterilization methods, and durability. Furthermore, in times of global warming and diminishing petroleum oil reserves, replacing the employing of synthetic materials with biomass biodegradable raw materials has considerable economic and environmental value. In the present study, a generation of eco-sustainable, bioinspired, and biodegradable HME devices are designed and developed through a green-chemistry process based on raw materials deriving from food waste and taking inspiration from the functioning, structure, and chemistry of our respiratory system. In particular, different blends are obtained by mixing aqueous solutions of gelatin and chitosan in various polymer ratios and concentrations and then by cross-linking them with different low amounts of genipin, a natural chemical cross-linker. Finally, the blends, post-gelation, are freeze-dried to obtain three-dimensional (3D) highly porous aerogels reproducing both the highly exposed surface area of the upper respiratory ways and the chemical composition of the mucus secretion covering the nasal mucosae. Results are comparable with accepted standards for HME devices and suitable bacteriostatic potential, thus validating these bioinspired materials as promising candidates to be used as an eco-sustainable generation of HME devices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3468-3479
Number of pages12
JournalACS Applied Polymer Materials
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 12 2023


  • HME device
  • bacteriostatic
  • bioinspired material
  • circular economy
  • green chemistry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Process Chemistry and Technology
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Organic Chemistry


Dive into the research topics of 'Nature-Inspired Heat and Moisture Exchanger Filters Composed of Gelatin and Chitosan for the Design of Eco-Sustainable “Artificial Noses”'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this