Highlights on the ecological advantages, production processes, and applications of mycelium material
Mushrooms, often overlooked, are nature’s unknown heroes. They play diverse roles in ecosystems, from decomposing organic matter to providing medicinal benefits in the form of antibiotics. However, the potential of mushrooms, especially mycelium, is not limited to the natural world.
Mycelium is the root structure of mushrooms and holds promise in the field of industrial biotechnology. Mycelium-based materials are gaining attention for their applications in construction, furniture, transportation, and packaging industries, offering a sustainable alternative to traditional materials.
In this blog post, we’ll delve into the world of mycelium material, their production, and how to optimise them to achieve different effects.
Understanding Mycelium Material
Mycelium-based materials are like fungal mixtures. They are naturally grown by combining the root structure of special mushroom strains and agricultural waste substrates, following a careful process.
Often are used strains like Ganoderma lucidum and Pleurotus ostreatus because they can break down natural materials and create a web of mycelium.
The stuff that makes up mycelium changes depending on what we feed it. We use materials like straw, grains, coffee bits, or sawdust.
Once the two ingredients are combined, the mycelium starts using special enzymes to get nutrients from the substrate and creates a strong structure. When the mycelium completely covers the material, we can start seeing fruit bodies on top. To stop this process and get the ready mycelium composite material, usually heat or drying is being used.
Optimising Mycelium Material for Different Effects
To make the most of mycelium materials, you can make specific changes to get the results you want. Here are some ways to make mycelium materials work better:
Pick the Right Mushroom Strain and Substrate: You can choose different types of mushrooms and substrate to create materials with different qualities. For instance, if you want something stretchy, use long, stringy mycelium for myco-leather. If you need something strong, use tough mycelium for building.
Use Controlled Processes: Use special techniques and ingredients to shape mycelium composites the way you want. These ingredients are usually natural and help make the materials biodegradable while avoiding harmful chemicals.
Adjust the Way You Make It: How you make mycelium materials, like the temperature, humidity, and light, has a big impact on what you get. By changing these things, you can create materials that last longer.
Give It a Final Touch: By using cold or heat pressing, you can make mycelium materials even better. Pressing them makes them denser, reduces tiny holes, and lines up the fibers, making them stronger. You can also make them last longer by treating them with natural oils.
Applications of Mycelium Materials
Mycelium materials offer a wide range of applications, owing to their unique properties. Here are some potential uses of mycelium-based materials:
Construction: Mycelium materials can replace traditional construction materials, offering strength, insulation, and fire resistance. Their low thermal conductivity and acoustic absorption properties make them ideal for sustainable building solutions.
Packaging: Mycelium-based packaging materials provide a biodegradable alternative to plastics, reducing environmental impact.
Automotive: Mycelium composites have the potential to replace petroleum-based materials in the automotive industry, contributing to lighter and more eco-friendly vehicles.
Interior Decor: Mycelium-based interior decor elements offer innovative and environmentally friendly design options.
Sustainability of Mycelium Materials
One of the most compelling aspects of mycelium materials is their sustainability. They have a lower carbon footprint compared to synthetic alternatives. In fact, growing mycelium can be carbon negative. This is due to the mycelium’s ability to bind carbon, which is later released into the environment, making it food for the soil. Mycelium materials are 100% natural and compostable, have low energy production requirements, contribute to a circular economy by utilising organic leftovers, and provide a safe and natural living environment.
Mycelium materials are poised to revolutionize the way we think about construction, packaging, and manufacturing. Their sustainability, strength, and versatility make them a viable alternative to traditional materials. As we face environmental, economic, and geopolitical challenges, the adoption of sustainable materials like mycelium can lead us towards a more sustainable future. Mycelium materials may just be the key to not only building our homes but growing them, paving the way for a more sustainable and eco-friendly world.
If you are interested what’s possible with mycelium composite design and curious how it can be implemented for your brand, book a call with our experts.