«The Personal Protective Equipment Testing Laboratory is special and interdisciplinary. It is unique, as it will help to institutions of both Ministry of the Interior and Ministry of Health, will provide a significant contribution to national defence, industry, science and higher education,» said RTU Rector, Academician Leonīds Ribickis when opening the laboratory. He expressed gratitude to the Head of the Laboratory, Associate Professor Inga Dāboliņa and her team, as well as to the entire staff of RTU, for implementation of this significant project, wishing to the laboratory «to bring contribution to the national economy and our national defence».
Minister of the Interior Māris Kučinskis added that «by establishing the Personal Protective Equipment Testing Laboratory, RTU has done a great work that in the long-term will provide considerable support to services operating in both the internal affairs system and in different other areas. It is significant that a laboratory has been created that will be useful for defence, which is of particular importance in the current complicated geopolitical situation, and also for healthcare, sport and many other areas.»
«We can say that Latvia can do and Latvia has done something that is yet unavailable at our colleagues in other countries,» emphasised Minister of Health Līga Meņģelsone.
Up to now, it has not been possible to perform testing of a full range of personal protective equipment in Latvia; such opportunities are limited also in the neighbouring countries and elsewhere in Europe. It was especially felt in Latvia during the Covid-19 pandemics, when there was a demand for testing masks. The Personal Protective Equipment Testing Laboratory has about 80 different machines intended for testing masks, respirators and filters, as well as special-purpose garments, such as protective and workwear, and various textiles. Such a set of laboratory equipment is globally unique. It will allow testing all kinds of personal protective devices with due quality and efficiency.
The new laboratory will be a benefit for the healthcare industry, confirmed L. Meņģelsone, indicating that expert opinions provided by RTU specialists for the industry will create a feeling of safety and confidence in the results.
It will also solve problems of the industry caused by difficulty to perform different tests of textile materials up to now, added President of the Latvian Association of Textile and Clothing Industry Guntis Strazds, expressing satisfaction with both establishment of the laboratory and new specialists in materials science trained by RTU.
The laboratory establishment also confirms the capability of research and higher education institutions to react efficiently to problems in the society and offer solutions to them. «The idea of establishing the laboratory occurred during the Covid-19 pandemics, when we were looking for a possibility to test masks created by RTU researchers, and it turned out that it was not possible anywhere in the Baltics. This fact confirmed that we need a place where new technologies can be not only tested but also created,» recollected RTU Vice-Rector for Research Tālis Juhna. He hopes that the new laboratory will facilitate the development of science and higher education and that shortly RTU will have more recognised scientists who will perform research in this area.
Minister of Education and Science Anda Čakša, wishing RTU scientists to be capable to continue reacting to events efficiently, said that opening of the laboratory is a confirmation to the fact that not everything we initially evaluate as bad turns out to be such, «as now we have a laboratory that will help our national economy to develop. Another important piece of news is that the university clearly fulfils its function not only in accumulating knowledge but also in transferring it further to economy and society, creating new knowledge».
The Head of the Laboratory I. Dāboliņa does not hide her satisfaction with what has been accomplished, revealing that interest to the laboratory has been expressed not only by representatives of different Latvian institutions and enterprises, but also by foreign experts. «As soon as we start speaking with some experts or interested persons abroad, demonstrating what has been accomplished and what the opportunities for collaboration are, they become speechless for a moment. The set of equipment available at RTU ensures the entire process – it allows testing, researching, creating innovations and shaping cooperation, finding out what specific features of clothing are both with regards to materials and new clothing in a complex,» said the researcher.
The new laboratory is established at RTU Institute of Industrial Electronics and Electrical Engineering of the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Environmental Engineering. It is located in the RTU Laboratory Building.