The groundbreaking at Lydall in Rochester. Courtesy photo.
As the pandemic stretches on and the need for personal protection continues, one NH company is positioning itself to be a key player. Lydall Performance Materials in Rochester is the largest production site in the United States for meltblown filtration media, which is used to line N95 and surgical masks, and trap viruses and bacteria.
In late July, Lydall broke ground on an expansion that will house Lydall’s Filtration Center of Excellence and two new production lines for its filters. The expansion was spurred by a $13.5 million federal contract with the Departments of Defense (DOD) and Health and Human Services (HHS), with funding provided through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
While Lydall Performance Materials is a global company, its Rochester operation is one of a handful in the U.S. that makes this fabric.
“The quick work to begin building these production lines really affirms why we, as a nation, need to prioritize local manufacturing of personal protective equipment and other key products needed to fight this virus. This contract comes at a critical time as COVID-19 cases continue to increase across the country and will help Lydall produce 1.7 billion masks per year to provide essential PPE to frontline workers,” says U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, who worked with Lydall leaders to apply for the contract.
Once the new 47,000-square-foot building is completed, Lydall will produce enough meltblown filtration in Rochester to enable U.S. production of 1.7 billion N95 respirators or 6.5 billion surgical masks per year. The first line is scheduled to go live in December and the second line in May 2021. CEO Sara Greenstein says it became apparent that COVID-19 was going to be a long-lasting and global event, so, she initiated conversations with government leaders in many of the countries where Lydall operates about ramping up production of PPE. “The United States, to its immense credit, was the first country to recognize just how important this is and to provide the funding we needed.”
Greenstein notes production lines have been running around the clock, and some of its 130 employees in Rochester voluntarily worked 60 days straight with no days off to produce as much of the filter material as possible. Lydall anticipates adding 15 more positions with the expansion, Greenstein says.
The company is also developing high efficiency, MERV-, HEPA- and ULPA-rated, activated-carbon-based gas phase filtration media to improve indoor air quality for public spaces. “Reopening the economy in a manner that is safe and sustainable will require the development of more sophisticated air filtration systems that, in concert with face mask-wearing and social distancing, provide the level of protection that will allow us to slow down the spread of COVID-19 so we can get back to something like our lives before the pandemic,” Greenstein says.
For more information, visit lydallpm.com.