Greensulate, green insulation made of mushroom mycellium
January 24, 2009 § 16 Comments
In a world where expenses on heating houses are growing and sustainable issues of buildings loosing heat and thus requiring more energy, a dual major in mechanical engineering and product design, Eben Bayer, hopes to solve some of those growing issues — by growing… mushrooms.
Eben Bayer developed a novel method of bonding insulating minerals in a matrix of pleurotus ostreatus mycelium in a certain growth stage. “The insulation is created by pouring a mixture of insulating particles, hydrogen peroxide, starch, and water into a panel mold”, he sais. Mushroom cells are then injected into the mold, where they digest the starch producing a tightly meshed network of insulating particles and mycelium.
Here’s how it works: A mixture of water, mineral particles, starch and hydrogen peroxide are poured into 7-by-7-inch molds and then injected with living mushroom cells. The hydrogen peroxide is used to prevent the growth of other specimens within the material.
Placed in a dark environment, the cells start to grow, digesting the starch as food and sprouting thousands of root-like cellular strands. A within two weeks, a 1-inch-thick panel of insulation is fully grown. It’s then dried to prevent fungal growth, making it unlikely to trigger mold and fungus allergies. The finished product resembles a giant cracker in texture.
This green insulation could replace traditional synthetic insulators such as foam and fiberglass, especially as it has a very competitive R-factor, could also acts as a firewall thanks to its very good flammable properties. Inexpensive and using little energy to make its footprint on the environment is small and could be produced locally by farmers or specialized cooperatives…. if only the care for environment would be more appealing than monetizing the product and it would be open-sourced. (Read on an updated article on Greensulate and SIPs -what are SIPs?)