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Biological engineering of waste into functional fungal mycelial composites

Study level

PhD

Master of Philosophy

Honours

Vacation research experience scheme

Faculty/Lead unit

Topic status

We're looking for students to study this topic.

Supervisors

Dr Mark Harrison
Position
Senior Research Fellow
Division / Faculty
Science and Engineering Faculty
Dr Lalehvash Moghaddam
Position
Research Fellow
Division / Faculty
Science and Engineering Faculty
Professor Robert Speight
Position
Professor (Microbial Biotechnology)
Division / Faculty
Science and Engineering Faculty
Dr James Strong
Position
Research Fellow
Division / Faculty
Science and Engineering Faculty
Dr Zhanying Zhang
Position
Senior Research Fellow
Division / Faculty
Science and Engineering Faculty

Overview

This project aims to take a waste material and repurpose it using fungal mycelial mats to penetrate and bind the organic compounds.

Numerous residues from agriculture and the urban lifestyle comprise of carbon polymeric chains that are accessible to fungi. Fungi grow on and within these structures and can generate a bound matrix that has notably different properties. Various fungal strains will be assessed fro growth and colonization of various agricultural residues (e.g. sugarcane trash, bagasse, paunch) and urban waste (cardboard, coffee waste, green waste).

Colonisation by selected strains and residues will be crudely optimized, and the resultant material assessed as sustainable solutions to replace materials for internal housing components (insulation or fillers), packaging. This will involve a diversity of tests such as fire resistance, compressibility, impact strength and tensile strength. Pyrolysis could also be assessed to determine if the adsorptive capabilities of the new material has wastewater treatment capability.

Research activities

Skills developed will include:

  • Solid state bioreactor design
  • Process design
  • Fermentation skills (solid state fermentation)
  • Materials science and testing product specifications or material properties (e.g. fire resistance, absorptive capability)
  • Varied analytical skills

Outcomes

The project hopes to develop a better understanding mycelia development and penetration of organic matrices. And properties within the mycelia of different species that allow better material properties.

We hope to generate a range of materials that have functional use in the wastewater, housing and construction, and food industry.

Skills and experience

  • Biological background - preferably in fermentation
  • Understanding of polymer science
  • Good aseptic technique
  • Strong analytical strengths

Scholarships

You may be able to apply for a research scholarship in our annual scholarship round.

Annual scholarship round

Keywords

Contact

Contact the supervisor for more information.