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Biomaterials for design - utilising fungi to develop a thick mat-like mycelium for use as an alternative textile - SACI0008

School of Arts and Creative Industries

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Dr S Vettese , Prof I Singleton Applications accepted all year round Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project


The textile industry is based largely on the use of cotton, leather and oil derived polymers and these industries are resource intensive and unsustainable. Cotton production, for example, requires vast quantities of water and is often grown in areas where water is scarce. Textiles account for 5% of the UKs total carbon and water footprint (Zero Waste Scotland, 2014). Chemically produced materials require intensive manufacture, rely on non-sustainable sources and can result in significant by-products. In essence, there is an urgent need for the textile industry to develop sustainable solutions and produce material that is of low environmental impact from supply chain, production and disposal viewpoints.

This research proposes to utilise the ability of fungi to develop a thick mat-like mycelium for use as an alternative textile, board material or object for a variety of utilitarian or decorative design purposes including apparel, interior and exterior textiles, household objects or building materials. This material has the potential for carbon, water and waste reduction in comparison to current textile provision. The microbes involved in the production are efficient in that we only grow what is needed. There is no waste and, the material may be directly produced from waste. In addition to this, the material will be naturally biodegradable. While there are a handful of companies utilising similar processes, including Mycoworks and Ecovative, there is extensive scope within the process to create different materials with unique aesthetic and utilitarian properties.

The work will be done by growing selected species of fungi (known to grow on plant products} on a small scale in controlled laboratory experiments. The fungi that show the most effective growth will be chosen to produce a sample textile(s). These samples will be used to create simple prototype designed objects which will be tested for tensile strength, size change, flammability, colour fastness etc.

The production of a viable fungal material has the potential to provide a new market for emotionally durable products.

Training in Microbiology will be given.

Academic qualifications:
A first degree (at least a 2.1) ideally in Applied Art and/or Design with a good fundamental knowledge of material properties.

English language requirement:
IELTS score must be at least 6.5 (with not less than 6.0 in each of the four components). Other, equivalent qualifications will be accepted. Full details of the University’s policy are available online.

Essential attributes:
• Experience of fundamental principles of design, craft and making towards aesthetic and utilitarian design outcomes, with an ability seek out new and innovative developments and to textually analysecontextual literature around the subject
• Competent in understanding utilitarian and aesthetic material properties and their relation to design and making
• Knowledge of issues of sustainability, circularity and disposability in design
• Good written and oral communication skills
• Strong motivation, with evidence of independent research skills relevant to the project
Good time management

Desirable attributes:
It would be desirable for the candidate to have an interest in working in a cross -disciplinary research environment, in biomaterials for design and to seek out potential industry links and new market opportunities.

When applying for this position please quote project code SACI0008

Funding Notes

This PhD opportunity is for self-funded students only


Anandjiwala, R.D., 2007. Textiles for sustainable development. Nova Publishers.
Ashby, M.F. and Johnson, K., 2013. Materials and design: the art and science of material selection in product design. Butterworth-Heinemann.
Black, S., 2012. The sustainable fashion handbook. Thames and Hudson. Blackburn, R. ed., 2009. Sustainable textiles: life cycle and environmental impact. Elsevier.
Fletcher, K., 2012. Sustainable fashion and textiles: design journeys. Routledge.
Jones, l., 2012. Environmentally responsible design: Green and sustainable design for in􀀮erior designers. John Wiley & Sons.
Li, Y. and Wong, A.S.1 2006. Clothing biosensory engineering. Woodhead Publishing.
Mattila, H. ed., 2006. Intelligent textiles and clothing. Woodhead Publishing.
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