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DMU scientist uses fungi to dye clothes

Jul '20
Nalinee Netithammakorn. Pic: De Montfort University
Nalinee Netithammakorn. Pic: De Montfort University
A scientist from De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) has shown how fungi can be used as a natural and energy-saving way of dyeing clothes. She found that the biodegradable enzymes present in natural fungi can be used to dye clothes, avoiding the use of conventional synthetic dyes. The process also saves energy and reduces waste associated with dyeing.

Nalinee Netithammakorn, a second-year PhD fashion and textiles design researcher from Thailand, found that she could use the biodegradable enzymes in natural fungi to dye clothes, avoiding the use of conventional synthetic dyes.

The dyeing process, which Netithammakorn has named ‘Enzcolour’, uses multidisciplinary technology at a lower temperature than conventional dyes, resulting in the benefit of energy saving as well as a reduction in waste from materials and water.

In recognition of her work, Netithammakorn was highly commended by the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts (RSA) in its RSA Student Design Awards.

Netithammakorn said: “Working on this project has led me to consider how I can contribute to circular fashion using innovative technology and creative thinking. The award from the RSA is very unexpected. When I entered, I never thought anything would come of it.”

“The whole experience has shown me that my project is valuable, and it has definitely driven my passion to discover and develop further potential contributions in the future,” Netithammakorn added.

Netithammakorn, who originally worked as a product developer and higher education instructor in fashion and textiles prior to pursing her doctoral study at DMU, was motivated by traditional dyeing methods from her home country of Thailand.

She said: “I wanted to explore sustainable alternative methods to the current traditional dyeing methods that may have a negative impact on the environment due to a contaminated effluent and high energy use.”

“Harsh chemicals used in conventional dyeing processes can contribute wastewater pollution in waterways. This led to my passion to improve sustainability in textile production. I was determined in my research to improve the conventional textile processing by using innovative technology.”

Netithammakorn said the research was only made possible thanks to the Textile Engineering and Materials (TEAM) Research Group at DMU believing in her.

“I undertake this research at DMU under the guidance of my three supervisors: Professor Jinsong Shen, Dr. Claire Lerpiniere and Dr. Edward Smith. They generously gave me an opportunity to learn and develop in this new field even though I did not have a strong background in chemistry or biotechnology. I come from a fashion background, so this is all new to me, but I was determined to improve the conventional textile processing in my research. I am so grateful to DMU for this opportunity to learn more,” Netithammakorn added.

Fibre2Fashion News Desk (SV)

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