We are pleased to announce PhD project in “Sustainable Fibres, Textiles and Sustainable Materials for Fashion Design Applications”. This project aims to manufacture sustainable textiles from renewable/natural polymers such as cellulose, chitin, alginate, chitosan which derived from most abundant natural resources like agricultural biomass and sea food waste (crab shell, shrimp shells etc.). The sustainable textiles will be used for eco-friendly and renewable textiles/clothing and fashion industry.
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Natural polymers like cellulose, chitin, chitosan, alginate are one of the most abundant and renewable polymer with robust mechanical properties. However large scale utilization of cellulose/chitin/chitosan has not been possible because it leaves a large environmental footprint due to the hazardous solvents used during its extraction/processing. We have developed an environmentally benign method for manufacturing of cellulose fibres using ionic liquid as a “green” solvent [Rahatekar et al, Polymer, 2010; Zhu et al, ACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering, 2016; Singh et al, Nanoscale, 2017].

In the fashion and clothing sector, there is a recent trend toward sustainable, environmental and socially responsible manufactured and grown fibres and materials. This is due to a number of non-profit organisations [World Wide Fund and People for Ethical treatment of animals - PETA] had highlighted the impact on the environment and encouraged the use of sustainable materials and consumers use of social media had increased the awareness of impact of depletion of resources and environment. In terms of fibre consumption, synthetic fibre/filaments are predicted to increase in textiles and clothing sector, although natural fibre consumption remains low and is predicted to decrease. With the advent of fast fashion, there is a greater demand for mass produced products at low cost. This trend leads to reduced shelf life of products resulting in large landfill and waste of resources

The cellulose and natural fibre manufacturing process developed in our lab can offer an excellent solution to sustainable textiles produce textiles for the fashion industry. Furthermore, the green fibre manufacturing process can be used to combine natural dyes such as curcumin, Indigo, pomegranate juice extract for eco-textiles or sustainable textiles for fashion industry. 
This project will develop textiles in Cranfield University (Dr Sameer Rahatekar) and the fashion design application in fashion industry in collaboration with Manchester Fashion Institute, Manchester Metropolitan University (Dr Prabhuraj Venkatraman).

Dr Sameer Rahatekar is a world renowned expert in dissolution and processing of natural polymers such as cellulose, chitin, alginate and silk using environmentally benign solvents. He has a strong research background on manufacturing multi-functional natural polymers based  fibres manufacturing, blends of natural polymers such as cellulose, chitin and silk and electrospinning natural polymers like alginate (in total 40 journal publications; 1561 citations; H index 21).  He has secured total research grants equivalent to £2.6 million as PI and Co-I from EPSRC, the British Council, and the Royal Academy of Engineering and from industrial research funding. He is playing a key role as a co-investigator and project manager on EPSRC funded project on “Manufacturing of High-Performance Cellulose Fibres to Replace Glass fibres & Carbon Fibre Precursors” (EP/L017679/1; total value £2.06 million). 

Dr Prabhuraj Venkatraman is a senior lecturer and research cluster lead in textiles technology at the Manchester Fashion Institute at Manchester Metropolitan University. He is a chartered Fellow of the Textile Institute (CText FTI), who has specific interest in Technical Textiles with focus on design and development of functional and performance apparel. In addition, he also keen on the development of smart textiles to monitor and promote health and well-being. His experience is in the industry to breathable viral barrier surgical gowns, layer garments for sportswear and sustainable and environmentally friendly methods for denim fabric processing finishing.

The textiles industry and textiles dying process is one of the worst water polluting industry. The environmentally friendly fibre manufacturing and fibre dying process developed in this project will offer excellent solution to significantly reduce the water pollution caused by the textiles and dying process used by textiles and fashion industry.

The student will get an opportunity to present the research paper at one international conference. 

The student will learn the following techniques/skills:

  • Natural polymer Textiles manufacturing, fibre spinning process
  • Textiles dying using natural dyes 
  • Mechanical testing and performance testing of natural fibres  
  • Use of the sustainable textiles for fabric design and fashion design.
  • Assessment of woven, knitted and nonwoven fabrics for their characteristics and performance
  • Measurement of comfort characteristics of fabrics using Alambeta, Permetest and Moisture Management Tester (MMT)
  • Stretch, recovery and growth assessment of knitted fabrics used for sportswear development

At a glance

  • Application deadline30 Jun 2020
  • Award type(s)PhD
  • Duration of award3 years
  • EligibilityUK, EU, Rest of World
  • Reference numberSATM110

Entry requirements

Applicants should have an equivalent of first or second class UK honours degree or equivalent in a related discipline, science (chemistry/physics/biology) or engineering. The ideal candidate should have some understanding in the area of materials science, chemistry, textiles. The candidate should be self-motivated, have good communication skills for regular interaction with other stakeholders, with an interest for industrial research.


The student needs to support the PhD tuition fees (£9,000/year for UK or EU student, and £18,500/year for overseas students) and the living expenses (approximately £800-£1000 per month). The cost for running the biopolymer textiles manufacturing and testing experiments and facilities cost will be supported by the Enhanced Composite and Structures Centre at Cranfield.

Cranfield Doctoral Network

Research students at Cranfield benefit from being part of a dynamic, focused and professional study environment and all become valued members of the Cranfield Doctoral Network. This network brings together both research students and staff, providing a platform for our researchers to share ideas and collaborate in a multi-disciplinary environment. It aims to encourage an effective and vibrant research culture, founded upon the diversity of activities and knowledge. A tailored programme of seminars and events, alongside our Doctoral Researchers Core Development programme (transferable skills training), provide those studying a research degree with a wealth of social and networking opportunities.

How to apply

For further information please contact:

Dr Sameer S Rahatekar

Email: S.S.Rahatekar@cranfield.ac.uk

Phone: 0044 (0) 1234 750111  extension 4685