Robotic Additive Manufacturing of Lichen Chitosan Composites for Air Quality Monitoring

We are very pleased to announce that UWE Bristol has funded the project Robotic additive manufacturing of lichen chitosan composites for air quality monitoring.

This project brings together Dr Tavs Jorgensen from the CFPR and Anna Nikolaidou from the School of Architecture and Environment to undertake a ground-breaking research project to develop a series of chitosan lichen based novel composites with sensing and responsive capabilities for air quality monitoring. Using a robotic arm to 3D print chitosan lichen paste the research team will reconfigure its form and function in response to air pollutant stimulants. Lichens naturally act as pollution indicators due to their high sensitivity to pollutants such as nitrogen and sulphur dioxide while chitosan particles exhibit excellent air filtration capabilities.

Initial experiments will focus on the development of the paste, embedding different indicator lichen species and the chitosan matrix (gelatine based) to establish the breadth of conditions that support the growth and sustain the biological material and test the composition and mixture of the components.

Dr Jorgensen is currently undertaking AHRC funded research into extrusion systems, bioactive composites and paste materials allowing the production of complex chitosan-based three-dimensional structures.

Anna Nikolaidou will lead the research mapping the different lichen species, distinct physiological performance parameters (pattern formation, growth rate etc) and performance as air pollutants.

This new class of bioactive materials from lichens/ chitosan matrix is self-sustainable, self-regenerating, self-regulating and environmentally responsive.  It is more cost-effective and have reduced environmental impact as compared to conventional materials, thus maximising the value of natural capital. It has transformative potential and applications to a diverse range of sectors from health monitoring (diagnostics, wellbeing), smart wearables and architecture.

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