What would you think of a product that was made from agricultural byproducts and mushrooms that had similar characteristics of expanded polystyrene including insulating values and able to achieve a Class 1 flame spread rating that was 100% natural, renewable, and biodegradable?
The idea may seem far fetched, but this new technology is very much a reality. The company, called Ecovative, has engineered a way to combine these natural ingredients to form insulating products for such things as product packaging, building products, and even structural composites.
How it Works:
Mycelium, the strong root system of mushrooms, is a natural binding agent that can knit together agricultural by-products, including corn and oat husks. The husks and the mushroom root cells, which eat the husks, grow to form a dense network that packs the designated mold formation. The trays spend five to seven days in a darkened warehouse before the rooted mixture is baked and dried into any shape needed.
The result is a lightweight, fireproof, waterproof foam material that feels like polystyrene, but decomposes in only one month after it's been buried in soil.
This product is in development for commercial application such as insulations, SIPs panels, and even acoustic tiles. These materials have low or no VOCs and perform similarly to traditional synthetic materials.
Ecovative is applying this technology to create next generation biocomposite materials using engineered textiles. In addition to the expanded plastic foams they have been replacing, Ecovative is now developing materials to replace dense materials like particle board. By growing structural core materials with mycelium, there is no need for toxic adhesives that contain formaldehyde.