Evaluation of Bio-Inspired Water Treatment Plant Sludge Materials Through Mycelium

Researchers are focusing on developing innovative, sustainable materials characterized by low energy consumption and versatility. Mycelium-based materials, an emerging topic in sustainable construction, offer promise due to mycelium's renewable properties and its ability to break down organic matter, potentially serving as a building block for eco-friendly construction materials. The objective of this research is to use water treatment plant (WTP) sludge as a substrate for mycelium to develop a bio-inspired sustainable construction material for transportation infrastructure. Mycelium is a root-like structure of a fungus consisting of a mass of branching, thread-like hyphae. Mycelium fibrous network structure can bind material together by growing into its substrate and provide tensile strength. A WTP produces large quantities of sludge as a result of treatment processes of raw water such as flocculation, filtration, and coagulation. Instead of shipping this non-hazardous waste sludge to commercial landfills, it can be used as a substrate for mycelium to grow sustainable, renewable construction materials. Various substrate mix designs using WTP and mycelium will be prepared to test and optimize mechanical properties of the designs, including compressive and tensile strength, and others. Microstructure of the mix designs and development of mechanical properties will also be evaluated over time. Leachate tests will be performed to assess the environmental impacts, if any, of the developed materials. Water erosion and landslide resistance of the developed materials will also be evaluated to determine their suitability for use as a construction material in the transportation infrastructure. To achieve its goals, the research project will employ graduate and undergraduate students in experiments and plans to disseminate findings through journal papers and reports. This collaborative approach and knowledge sharing are essential components of the research's technology transfer plan, contributing to the broader understanding and adoption of eco-friendly construction materials.


    • English


    • Status: Active
    • Funding: $91200
    • Contract Numbers:


    • Sponsor Organizations:

      Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology

      University Transportation Centers Program
      Department of Transportation
      Washington, DC  United States  20590
    • Managing Organizations:

      Environmentally Responsible Transportation Center for Communities of Concern

      University of Missouri Kansas City
      Kansas City, Missouri  United States  64110
    • Project Managers:

      Kline, Robin

    • Performing Organizations:

      Tennessee State University

      Nashville, TN  United States  37209
    • Principal Investigators:

      Armwood, Catherine

      Liu, Shihui

      Parthasarathy, Ranganathan

      Du, Kang

    • Start Date: 20230601
    • Expected Completion Date: 20240530
    • Actual Completion Date: 0
    • USDOT Program: University Transportation Centers Program

    Subject/Index Terms

    Filing Info

    • Accession Number: 01895984
    • Record Type: Research project
    • Source Agency: Environmentally Responsible Transportation Center for Communities of Concern
    • Contract Numbers: 69A3552348335
    • Files: UTC, RIP
    • Created Date: Oct 14 2023 7:18AM