The Science Now! Hub at Newcastle’s Life Science Centre will exhibit a new project showcasing research being conducted in its scientific community.

The Growing our Futures exhibit displays environmentally-minded initiatives, such as structures made from fungi that could potentially replace concrete, self-cleaning materials inspired by lotus leaves, dragonfly wing-inspired insulation and walls capable of "breathing" without energy consumption.

Ben Rutherford-Orrock from Life Science Centre said: "Nature has always been our greatest teacher and is incredibly efficient in its use of both resources and energy.

"These new exhibits will showcase the amazing science and engineering that is harnessing nature to come up with innovative new materials and also help reduce waste.

“The possibilities are endless from creating leather-like fabrics from fungi, which could repair themselves, to non-cuttable materials that take the inspiration from the strong structure of abalone sea snail shells!”

Growing our Futures also challenges visitors to question established concepts, such as living in a house constructed of fungus.

The exhibition aims to trigger thought and discussions about sustainable living among attendees.

Lidija Siller, a professor at Newcastle University, said: “During our research we realised that dragonfly wings are made out of aerogels, which are solids made from gels, but the water is removed and replaced with gas. These can have many applications, including thermal and acoustic insulation, due to its highly porous and lightweight structure.

“The fact that a dragonfly can make these aerogels at room temperature and at atmospheric pressure, led us to replicate this process to establish a low energy, low-cost method to produce aerogels.

“That research has now moved on and Dragonfly Insulation, based in Low Prudhoe, is currently scaling up this process of making aerogel powders for insulation, giving this research real world impact.”

Emily Birch, a PhD student at Newcastle University and researcher of the breathable walls project, said the new exhibits highlight how nature works in a sustainable way, minimising resources and the impact on the planet.

She said: “It’s no wonder that we look to nature for research inspiration; essentially we are accessing 3.8 billion years’ worth of evolutionary trial and error."

Growing our Futures will open in the Science Now! Hub when the science centre reopens on February 10.