College of Engineering Unit:
The Material Sciences in Menstrual Health and Hygiene (MHH) project focuses on the development of a biodegradable and compostable menstrual pad for underserved communities. Applying engineering skills and principles to innovate a technical and social solution to address the issue of poor menstrual health and hygiene in developing countries is the main goal. The MHH team has tested various types of materials and designs to find the best construction of an effective and compostable menstrual pad, with functional use and sustainability in mind. The team is working to create a biodegradable, compostable sanitary pad containing hemp and superabsorbent biopolymer to address these menstrual hygiene needs.
Thus far, the team has tested marketed menstrual pads to assess their strikethrough, absorbency, wetback, adhesion performances, and biodegradability. Using these guidelines with the addition of the need to be compostable in local environments, such as Botswana, sustainable materials have been sourced that meet the criteria and provide functionality, accountability, and use as a potential pad. The pads will be developed to be completely biodegradable in a home compost system. The pads will be designed and produced in the School of CBEE Polymer Lab, utilizing a 3D printer and assembly lines to mass-produce the transformative prototype.
Collaboration with Dr. Sunil Khanna in the OSU Global Health program has allowed the team to create an initial target community for the administration of the manufactured pads. Dr. Khanna established a program in a small rural community in Maunatlala, Botswana where women struggle with the challenges that come with menstrual hygiene in developing countries. With the help of Dr. Khanna and his students, the team plans to distribute sustainable menstrual pads to this community as the beta test site. Ongoing research involves testing both the materials and construction design of prototype menstrual pads. During the summer of 2022, two team members will travel to Maunatlala to do preliminary work and deliver donated compostable pads to the community. The team’s next goal is to select the final prototype to manufacture in-house to deliver to the community during future summers.
Project Communication Piece(s):