N.C. State Wilson doctoral candidate focusing on greener textiles solutions
Posted December 16, 2020
RALEIGH, N.C. – Synthetic fibers such as polyester, polypropylene, nylon etc. are widely used in textiles and related industries. In recent decades, there has been an explosion of conscientious efforts to improve the sustainability and circularity of textile and fashion brands-related economies.
As the global population increases, so has the use of clothing and its waste byproducts. Recent clothing trends has sparked the demand for fast fashion, while spiking the pollution of clothing in landfills. Microfiber pollution in seawater and other waterways is of great concern. Such environmental concerns have caused efforts in sustainability to trends in the textile industry.
This has prompted renewed interest in the use of natural and/or biodegradable fibers as alternatives to petroleum-based synthetics.
One person focusing on tackling these challenges is Manik Chandra Biswas, a doctoral candidate in the Fiber and Polymer Science program in Wilson College of Textiles. He joined the program in Fall 2018 as a recipient of the North Carolina Textile Foundation (NCTF) fellowship, and his research focuses on improving the sustainability of the textile industry. In this article, we focus on his amazing graduate research focusing on sustainability and circular economy in the textiles and fashion industries as well as his plans for the future endeavors.
His doctoral research focuses on replacing toxic and environmentally harmful additives in clothing known as “cellulose acetate fibers” (which are found in high-quality, dry-clean-only clothing, such as wedding gowns) for stronger, greener fibers. He developed a sustainable clothing fiber spinning technology that is safer and greener when compared to current means, and filed a U.S. patent for this technology and published a peer-reviewed journal article in the journal Carbohydrate Polymers. You can read the published article here: “Glucaric Acid Additives for the Antiplasticization of Fibers Wet Spun from Cellulose Acetate/Acetic Acid/Water.”
These innovations in textile sustainability encourages a circular economy in both textile and agricultural industries, meaning fabrics are easily recycled and reused. His research focuses on both minimizing waste during production and manufacturing as well as ensure that fabrics in the end are sustainable, economically effective, and balanced. He also presented his research on additive-strengthened regenerated fibers at the International Society of Industrial Fabric Manufacturer (ISIFM), which covers innovations in the downstream chemical industry such as spin finish technology, nanotechnology, fiber development, 3D weaving and testing in October 2019 in Greenville, S.C.
The recycling of cellulose from cotton textiles would minimize the use of virgin crop fibers and nonrenewable petrochemicals as sources of resin for synthetic fiber production. Products manufactured from recycled polymers are generally inferior in mechanical performance to those made from virgin resin or natural fibers; this behavior would likely apply to regenerated cellulose (RC) sourced from recycled cellulose. This challenge prompted the investigation of biobased additives that were capable of improving the mechanical strength and stiffness of fibers by means of anti-plasticizing additives.
Another study focused on cellulose recycling from cotton T-shirts and mechanically strengthened with glucaric acid (GA), a nontoxic fermentation by-product that is capable of antiplasticizing RC fibers which won first place in the TUFF CHALLENGE and recognized as GOLD WOLVES. The authors greatly acknowledge Tyton Biosciences for supporting this research and donating cotton pulp from recycled t-shirts and Kalion,Inc. for donating glucaric acid.
I. Investigating the feasibility of recycling cellulose into spun fibers with minimum loss in tensile strength supporting the circular textile economy.
II. Developing sustainable and eco-friendly fiber processing techniques to upgrade brands reputation towards sustainability and circular economy.
The Ford Innovation Team at N.C. State's Wilson College of Textiles
As a master’s student at Tuskegee University in Alabama, Biswas published three peer-reviewed journal articles and two book chapters, wherein two papers describe the synthesis of nanomaterials from waste biomass and the subsequent reinforcement of plastics and antimicrobial food packaging. His fundamental background in applied chemistry, chemical engineering, polymers and fibers motivated him in innovations of green chemistry as well as their adoption by industry and government.
His most proud moments as Bangladeshi International at North Carolina State University of accomplishing so far are (1) filing one U.S. patent application on his Ph.D. research work as well as (2) published three journal articles (1 published, 2 In-progress). You can read another recently published article here: “3D printing technology of polymer-fiber composites in textile and fashion industry: A potential roadmap of concept to consumer” in Composite Structures.
Additionally, he received the North Carolina Textile Foundation (NCTF) fellowship (2018-2019), and served as vice president (Internal) and secretary in the Textile Association of Graduate Students (TAGS) from 2018-2019 & 2019-2020, respectively. Overall, he is really grateful to join Wilson College, N.C. State University and Ford Innovation Team (FIT), Textile Engineering, Chemistry and Science.
His dream is to be a future leader and driver in helping the textile industry adopts a circular economy. He would love to work in research and development at any national laboratory or industry and see himself as chief scientist. After five to 10 years, he wants to be an entrepreneur and start his own company that would focus on creating sustainable materials to further production of valuable green products.
By starting a company to make those materials, he would further encourage textile industries as well as any polymer and materials-oriented company like Eastman, Tesla, Nike and even Amazon, to move towards a greener, more sustainable economy.
Biswas is a textile and materials engineer with more than nine years of research and industrial experience. He is seeking to innovate real-world textile and polymeric products and guide innovations in green chemistry as well as their adoption by Industry.
His graduate research at the masters level in Materials Science and Engineering from Tuskegee University in Alabama and doctoral level research at N.C. State University are marked by innovations in the 1) conversion of biomass waste into value-added materials; and 2) substitution of petroleum-based additives with biomass derivatives for the strengthening of plastics and regenerated fibers from natural resources. Overall, this research will improve the sustainability of the textile industry by introducing overlap between the circular economies of both textile and agricultural industries.
As a doctoral student, Biswas studies the structure, properties and solution spinning of reinforced synthetic fibers (e.g. polyvinyl alcohol fibers) and several fibers based on lignocellulosic materials. In particularly, his work on lignin-based fibers describe the manufacture of green fibers (having more than 30% lignin to matrix polymer) and a method to develop technical fibers from biomass waste to lessen the textile industry’s dependence on synthetic polymers.
Further, he has studied the use of additives fermented from biomass sugars as additives for the strengthening of fibers regenerated from lignocellulosic polymers. Biswas has unique academic training in applied chemistry, chemical engineering and polymeric fibers that allows him to explore fundamental research in green chemistry and research having industrial relevance.
At the graduate level since 2015, he has supported work in five industry-sponsored projects (all related to green chemistry), filed one U.S. patent application, drafted three patent disclosures and published 15 peer-reviewed journals and seven book chapters on the use of biomass derivatives towards manmade fiber production and polymer nanocomposites towards sustainability.
Manik Chandra Biswas on N.C. State's Cenennial Campus
Manik Chandra Biswas speaks at the ISIFM Fall Conference in Greenville, S.C., last year.