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QUADRAT DTP: Investigation of the growth of molds (fungi and bacteria) in bio-based materials made from agro-waste food

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Wednesday, January 22, 2020
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

The production of insulating materials for buildings obtained from the valorization of agro-resources is a promising way both in terms of ecology and hydrothermal performances of these composites. However, the lack of information on their resistance to mold development limits their use. The mold development is indeed likely to cause health problems and to induce damage. There is therefore a need to classify the materials according to their resistance to mold growth and disintegration in order to use them appropriately and also to investigate different treatment of natural fibers to reduce of risk of molds [Sonebi, M., Amziane S. 2019]..
The molds are produced by wide variety of microorganisms, mainly microscopic fungi and yeasts. These play an important role in the decomposition of plant materials. These microorganisms grow and reproduce very quickly, spreading spores and mycelium. These microorganisms may already be present inside building materials (walls, partitions, ceilings) or may be directly introduced into homes through ventilation. Their growth depends on various factors, in particular: flood, water leaks (roof or pipework), poorly-ventilated spaces (in kitchen, in bathroom) and building seals. Although fungi are present in the atmosphere, higher concentrations may result in adverse health effects. Indeed, many fungal components are likely to cause adverse effects on the health of exposed individuals. Mold prevention and remediation in new and existing housing is thus not solely an aesthetic issue, but also one of public health and hygiene.
The project will focus on optimization of bio-based materials with different treatment of natural fibers, the evolution of concrete mechanical properties (strength) and porosity will be examined experimentally and numerically. The aim is to develop a method to qualify bio-based composites with respect to their resistance to mold development, propose efficient treatment of natural fibers to mitigate this molds and characterize the mechanical, thermal and hygrometry properties of bio-based materials. The student will have a training on the advanced technology equipements to assess the growth of molds (fungi and bacteria) on bio-based materials and also on the treatment of natural fibres to be used in buildings.


Candidates should have (or expect to achieve) a minimum of a 2.1 Honours degree in a relevant subject. Applicants with
a minimum of a 2.2 Honours degree may be considered providing they have a Distinction at Master’s level.


• Apply for Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Biological Sciences/Geosciences (update as appropriate)
• State name of the lead supervisor as ‘Name of Proposed Supervisor’ on application
• State ‘QUADRAT DTP’ as Intended Source of Funding
• Select the ‘Visit Website’ to apply now (update as appropriate: website for applying through your school)

Funding Notes

This project is funded by the NERC QUADRAT-DTP and is available to UK/EU nationals who meet the UKRI eligibility criteria. Please visit View Website for more information.

The studentship provides funding for tuition fees, stipend and a research training and support grant subject to eligibility.

How good is research at Queen’s University Belfast in Geography, Environmental Studies and Archaeology?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 30.80

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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