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Textile Engineering and Materials (TEAM)

TEAM was established in the early 1990s to undertake research in textiles. Textile research is by its very nature multi-disciplinary and this is reflected in the wide range of projects undertaken. The group seek to improve materials performance and processing through applied research in four inter-related areas:

Textile Products and Processing

  • High performance technical, medical and military textiles
  • Nanotechnology for enhanced performance
  • Industrial textiles, protective clothing and composites

Enzymes and Sustainable Technologies

  • Environmental and social assessment
  • Application of biotechnology
  • Re-use, re-manufacture and recycling of textiles

Agriculture and Natural Fibres

  • Plant fibres from non-food crops
  • Process engineering for plant fibre extraction
  • Processing of protein fibres and textiles

Material Performance and Design

  • Predicting the performance of fibres, yarns and fabrics
  • Bespoke software packages for yarn and fabric design
  • 3D textile design

TEAM researchers

Professor Jinsong Shen, Professor of Textile Chemistry and Biotechnology

Dr Joanne Horton, Senior Lecturer

Dr Edward Smith, Research Fellow

Dr Angela Davies, Senior Lecturer in Textile Technology

Dr Claire Lerpiniere, Senior Lecturer in Printed textiles

TEAM projects


    Laser Enhanced Biotechnology for Textile Design; Three Dimensional, Colour and Surface Patterning

    The LEBIOTEX project is a collaborative project between De Montfort University (DMU) and Loughborough University (LU) to explore new technologies for textiles and boosting sustainability of the industry. The aim of the proposed project is to develop new environmentally friendly methods for unique textile colour surface patterning with three dimensional effects. The project proposes investigation into laser and enzyme processing technologies and their combination for textile pattern design. The use of enzyme and laser technology offers the prospect of substantial reductions in the use of chemicals, the amounts of water and energy used and effluent produced. The work aims to create novel laser enhanced enzyme techniques and therefore to discover new sustainable creative opportunities for textile design.

    Substantial funding of over £200,000 has been received for the project from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). Speedo, Camira Fabrics and Teresa Green Design are also supporting the project with fabric sourcing, design prototyping and concept evaluation.

    During the project, Professor Jinsong Shen and Dr Edward Smith, from the School of Design, are supervising student Chetna Prajapati in the Textiles Engineering And Materials (TEAM) research centre at DMU|. Dr Faith Kane, lecturer in Textiles at Loughborough University is supervising student Laura Morgan together with Professor John Tyrer from the School of Manufacturing and Mechanical Engineering. Other research staff involved in the project are Ms Julie Stephenson (DMU) and Mr Matthew Broughton (LU).

    Project Consortium:

    The LEBIOTEX Project Consortium comprises five partners representing academic and industrial organisations. The project is coordinated by Prof Jinsong Shen of Textile Engineering and Materials (TEAM) Research Group at De Montfort University in Leicester, UK.

    • De Montfort University, Textile Engineering and Materials Research Group, School of Fashion and Textiles, The Gateway, Leicester, LE1 9BH, UK
    • Loughborough University, School of Art and Design, Loughborough, Leicestershire, LE11 3TU, UK
    • Speedo International Ltd, Speedo House, Enterprise Way, ng2 Business Park, Nottingham, NG2 1EN, UK
    • Camira Fabrics Ltd, The Watermill, Wheatley Park, Mirfield, West Yorkshire, WF14 8HE, UK
    • Teresa Green Design, Halscombe Farm Barn, Halscombe Lane, Ide, Exeter, Devon, EX2 9TQ, UK

    High protective clothing for complex emergency situations

    The collaborative project SAFEPROTEX, worth 4.22 million Euros, is funded by the European Commission under the 7th Framework Programme, targeting small and medium enterprises.

    The key aim of the project is to develop protective uniforms that incorporate multiple protective properties, designed for rescue teams and emergency services/organisations that work under complex and hazardous conditions in everyday emergency operations.

    The uniforms will be designed to protect against the multiple risks of potentially dangerous situations, such as:

    • The wet and water permeation
    • Extreme environment temperatures
    • Microbial contamination
    • Fire and associated heat
    • UV radiation and protection against static electricity.

    The research project will develop protective garments, providing defensive functions as well as physical comfort.

    SAFEPROTEX is multidisciplinary project that requires developments in diverse areas such as polymers science, technology and processing, new additive master batches development and fibre spinning, nanotechnology, sol-gel technology, smart thermo-regulating materials, micro-encapsulation, plasma technology, ergonomic garment design, etc. The consortium brings together a unique combination of expertise, with a selection of approaches on its research activities, the researchers will deliver the most promising materials and associated technologies.

    The project began in April 2010 and is due to complete by the end of September 2013, comprises 18 consortium partners representing research centres, academic and industrial organisations in over nine European countries (Greece, Czech Republic, France, United Kingdom, Finland, Spain, Sweden, Italy and Slovakia).

    The investigator from De Montfort University TEAM Research Group participating in the project is Dr Jinsong Shen.

    Project outcomes:

    The SAFEPROTEX Consortium
    Technological Centres and SMEs:

    • Clothing Textile and Fibre Technology Development Company (Project Coordinator)
    • INOTEX spol, s.r.o.
    • RESCOLL Technical Centre of Materials
    • TDV Industries
    • De Montfort University
    • Tampere University of Technology
    • GAIKER Technological Centre
    • Swerea IVF AB
    • Next Technology Tecnotessile Societá Nazionale di Ricerca r.l.
    • LEITAT Technological Center
    • Lenzi Egisto S.p.A.
    • yskumny ustav chemických vlakien, a.s.
    • CALSTA Work Wear S.A.
    • Suministros Iruñako S.V.
    • Fundació Privada CETEMMSA  
    • RESCUE GR.
  3. ENZUP

    Enzymatic up-grading of wool fibres

    The ENZUP project was worth 1.9 million Euros (2006-2008) and was a European Commission funded co-operative research project in the domain: Horizontal Research Activities Involving Small and Medium Enterprise (SME), under Framework Programme 6. The project objectives were to provide SME’s with novel enzymatic technology for improving the quality and performance of wool-containing products, which look to meet the needs consumers.

    The key aim of the ENZUP project was to minimise cost and improve environment by using innovative processes. ENZUP will expand the novel technology from chemical modification to genetic engineering of enzymes based on previous knowledge and engineered proteases with a range of molecular sizes for different finishing processes. Another important target of the project was to develop new bio-finishes for smart performance of wool textile materials with multi-functionality.

    The ENZUP Project Consortium

    The ENZUP Project Consortium comprises 12 partners representing academic and industrial organisations. The project is coordinated by Prof Jinsong Shen of Textile Engineering and Materials (TEAM) Research Group at De Montfort University in Leicester, UK.

    • De Montfort University, Textile Engineering and Materials Research Group, The Gateway, Leicester, LE1 9BH, UK
    • Tints Enrich S. L., Carretera Molins De Rei 201, 08205 Sabadell , Spain
    • Color-Center, S. S. A., Ptge. Marie Curie 3, 08223 Terrassa, Spain
    • Lokateks, Skofja, D. O. O., Kidriceva 75, Skofja Loka, SI-4220, Slovenia
    • Qualizyme Biotechnology, Leechgasse 55/8, 8010 Graz, Austria
    • VOF Ovis Texla, Weverstraat 38, 1791 AE Den Burg-Texel, The Netherlands
    • James weaker VOF, Mercuriusplein1, 5971 LW, Grubbenvorst, The Netherlands
    • Graz University of Technology, Dept. of Environmental Biotechnology, Petersgasse 12, A-8010 Graz, Austria
    • University of Minho, Departamento de Engenharia Têxtil, 4800-058 Guimarães, Portugal
    • TNO Science and Industry, Innovative Materials Dept. De Rondom 1, 5612 AP Eindhoven, The Netherlands
    • Polytechnical University of Catalonia, Dept. d’Enginyeria Quimica, EUETIT, Colom, 1, 08222 Terrassa (Barcelona) Spain
    • University of Maribor, Institute of Engineering Materials and Design, Smetanova ulica 17, SI-2000 Maribor, Slovenia 

    Department of Trade and Industry - BASTEX      

    Funding for the Bastex project had been awarded under the Department of Trade and Industry, Technology Programme. This research project investigates the novel method for improved extraction of fibres from bast fibre crops, such as flax and hemp.   

    Traditional textile production can no longer be viewed as a sound basis on which to build a long term profitable future for textile businesses. Low value markets and low cost imports from European and Far East competitors mean that it is necessary to consider moving into new, high value markets to overcome these difficulties and maintain commercial viability.


    The development of a cross cluster best practice platform for entrepreneurial innovation - for the technical textile sector

    The European (EU) textiles sector has an annual turnover of 200 billion euros and represents around 4% of the EU’s manufacturing production and 7% of manufacturing employment.

    In the face of massive labour cost disadvantages, the production of a relatively low value and labour intensive product such as textiles is a real challenge facing the industry today.

    The vision of the project is to strengthen the European textile manufacturers production’ moving from low value added textile materials to high value added technical textiles products, using new technological capabilities.

    The aim of the InnoTex project is to develop a best practice platform for innovation and entrepreneurship for the technical textiles industry. By identifying and facilitating the transfer of innovation and entrepreneurship best practice between the complementary clusters in the technical textiles sectors.

    To achieve this aim, three specific objectives have been identified:

    • To support networking activities between existing business clusters that operate in the same or different sectors in Europe and confirm the need for establishing European level co-operation platform that facilitates the exchange of knowledge and best practices between stakeholders in Europe.
    • To promote co-operation among industrial clusters in the most advanced regions in Europe in order to exchange experience and expertise and to develop policy recommendations which can be shared with others and in particular; less advanced regions.
    • To allow possible synergies and exchange of knowledge from different disciplines for the development of joint programmes and the establishment of joint projects and business strategies between participant clusters.

    Project partners:

    • Pera Innovation Limited - UK (Coordinator)
    • Leicester Shire Economic Partnerships (LSEP) - UK
    • Leicestershire Intelligence (LI) - UK
    • De Montfort University - UK
    • - Denmark
    • UdviklingsCenter Hadersley - Denmark
    • Elvström Sails A/S - Denmark
    • Pera Inspiralia - Spain
    • Federación de Industrias Textiles
    • y de la Confección de Aragón (FITCA) - Spain
    • Fundación San Valero - Spain
    • Estonian Clothing and Textile Association - Estonia
    • Enterprise Estonia - Estonia 

    TEXFLAX was a three and half year project funded by EPSRC and Defra under the ‘LINK Competitive Industrial Materials from Non-Food Crops Programme’. The project commenced in January 2002 and ended in December 2005.

    The work investigated alternative methods of reliably producing good quality, short fibre flax with high value textile end uses in mind. In this investigation, quality relates to the usefulness of the fibre for processing on the cotton-spinning systems; good quality fibre has high value in the market place; and the economics of the supply chain are attractive at all stages of fibre production and processing.

    Fine flax and flax/blend yarns can be used in the high volume manufacture of expensive fabrics, currently dominated by 100% cotton and cotton/polyester blends. The aims of the TEXFLAX project were:

    • To investigate alternative flax growing, harvesting and processing methods for the economic production of high quality, short-fibre flax for high-value textile end uses
    • To develop improved machinery for the cleaning, sub-dividing and stretch-breaking of short flax fibres
    • To evaluate outcomes against current textile fibre quality and processing standards.

    Project outcomes

    The project demonstrated that the variety of flax grown has a definite effect upon the diameter (fineness) of the ultimate fibres in flax. The commercial evaluation of the finest fibre shows potential for entering into the new domestic and medical textiles markets.

    Desiccation of flax at the mid point flowering stage, using glyphosate-based herbicides, followed by retting the flax as a standing crop, can reliably produce straw which will yield fibre suitable for a range of high value end uses.  The mechanical extraction of short fibre from flax straw, fibre cleaning to remove non-fibre plant debris, and fibre separation, have been improved so that productivity is maintained with minimal effect on fibre length and strength.  

    Potential benefits to the textile sector

    • The investigation concluded that there are strong indications that good quality flax can be grown profitably in the UK without farming subsidy. In particular:
    • The flax processor will have the opportunity to expand their operations into high volume production of fine fibre flax for new markets.
    • Cotton spinners will have a sustainable supply of alternative raw material for use in a wider product market.
    • Yarn users will have alternative raw materials from which to select for the industrial and domestic textile markets.
    • Machinery manufacturers can expand their product range to meet processor requirements.
    • Seed suppliers will have the opportunity to expand their flax seed range and sales to meet agricultural requirements.

    The TEXFLAX project consortium

    The consortium was representative of the complete supply chain and included UK flax growers, a UK flax processing company and an Italian spinning company. Optimum flax varieties have been identified by workers at De Montfort University for the quality of fibre they produce, and these are being grown in small plot trials in areas of Leicestershire and Cornwall. Fibre extraction is achieved following desiccation and retting the straw as a standing crop. Current decortication machinery available in the UK had been evaluated and optimised for the cleaning and separation of fibre of the desired quality. The evaluation of the fibre in terms of its suitability for use in yarn production on cotton spinning systems was carried out by our spinning company partner in Italy.

    The Texflax project consortium comprised of eight partners representing academic and industrial organisations:

    Investigators from the TEAM Research Group DMU

    • Professor Raymond Harwood
    • Dr Jane Harwood
    • Mr Dennis Waldron
    • Mr Paul McCormick

    Further information

    A wealth of information relating to the non-food use of crops is available on various websites. Some of interest are listed below:

    • For more information on the LINK programme visit the "Competitive Industrial materials from Non-Food Crops" website and the BBSRC website carries newsletters for the programme.
    • The UK Government Non-Food Use of Crops Research Database provides useful information relating both to completed and on-going research into the production and exploitation of renewable non-food materials and bio-energy from arable crops.
    • The website of the Government Industry Forum on non-food uses of crops aims to provide strategic advice to Government and industry on the development of non-food uses of crops.
    • The recently formed National Non Food Crops Centre aims to drive forward innovation within the competitive non-food uses of crops.

    Modified proteases for the reduction of felting and shrinkage of wool textiles (Grant agreement ID: G1RD-CT-2002-00695)

    The market value of wool is limited by the fact that consumers place increasingly high demands on machine wash ability and soft handle. Felting, which is a typical property of wool due to the configuration of the scales of the wool fibre, is a serious problem, especially during washing. Chlorination, followed by polymer deposition, is commonly used to confer shrink-resistance, but this involves major drawbacks with respect to chlorine and the environment. The main aspect of this proposal was to develop a novel enzymatic process for producing machine washable wool by limiting the enzymatic degradation of wool fibres to their cuticle scales. The novel engineered enzymes was developed to achieve this goal. The radically new bioprocessing regimes for wool scouring and finishing processes, and commercial products will be developed. This would be a major technological breakthrough to completely replace a hazardous chemical preparation and finishing route.

    The PROTEX Project Consortium

    The PROTEX Project Consortium comprises 8 partners representing academic and industrial organisations. The project is coordinated by Prof Jinsong Shen of Textile Engineering and Materials (TEAM) Research Group at De Montfort University in Leicester, UK.

    • De Montfort University (UK)
    • Drummond Parkland of England (UK),
    • Alphachem Specialities Ltd (UK),
    • VOF Ovis Texla (NL),
    • James Weekers (NL),
    • Graz University of Technology (A),
    • University of Minho (P),
    • TNO for Applied Scientific Research (NL).