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Colorifix and Central Saint Martins team up on microbial printing PhD project

By Veerle Versteeg


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UK biotechnology company Colorifix and Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design (CSM) at the University of the Arts London (UAL), have joined forces on a new PhD research project with the aim to accelerate the transition to microbial colour printing in the textile industry.

Carole Collet, a professor connected to the university where she is the co-director of CSM’s Living Systems Lab Research Group, announced the news via a post on LinkedIn.

The project is a sponsored project, led by designer and Central Saint Martins PhD student Ruth Lloyd. Lloyd is a textile designer with ample background experience in and knowledge about textile printing.

CSM researchers Carole Collet and Alice Taylor, as well as Jim Ajioka, chief science officer at Colorifix will supervise the PhD candidate during her research project.

Central Saint Martins researchers team up with Colorifix on PhD project

Ruth Lloyd was designer in residence at Colorifix from 2021 to 2022. For her PhD project she will explore how to develop “a scalable bio-based colouring framework for the dyeing industry”, the announcement reads.

The textile industry is one of the global industries that uses the most water, “more than 5 trillion litres per year approximately”, the post by researcher Collet reads. In addition, a large number of “highly toxic chemicals are used in its dyeing processes”, about 70 different chemicals.

Colorifix uses simple sugars and plant by-products to replace the chemicals used in petrochemical dying processes. In addition to eliminating toxic chemicals that are currently used in the industry, this method enables the company to reduce the water consumption and energy used in textile dyeing.

Commenting on the project, researcher Carole Collet said in a statement: “We are delighted to activate our formal collaboration with Colorifix via this pioneering PhD project and are looking forward to working with leaders in bacterial biotechnologies to develop new knowledge for regenerative fashion systems.”

Professor Jim Ajioka, chief science officer at Colorifix Ltd, added: “Collaborative PhD projects like ours with Central Saint Martins will become an increasingly important component of research at the intersection of science and design, especially for industrial adoption of bio-based products and processes.”

Central Saint Martins