At the 2016 Greenbuild Expo, Ecovative Design launched a line of healthy, bio-fabricated furniture made with the company’s MycoBoard technology.
The Ecovative Interiors line of furniture is created by utilizing the company’s signature MycoBoard panels that leverage mycelium, a glue-like substance found in mushrooms, and the company’s mResinadhesive system. The technology binds a variety of lignin- and cellulose-based loose materials and agricultural waste, such as flax, canola, hemp, and recycled wood to create panels for construction. The material is formaldehyde free, VOC free, and fire resistant, and can be molded into any shape or form. Ecovative grows every component of the Imperial stool: the legs, seat, upholstery, cushioning, and the packaging it is protected with. We envision a future where everything for the home—and office—is grown,” says Ecovative co-founder and CEO Bayer. “From the exterior walls, to the insulation, the floors, walls, wall tiles, cabinets, chairs, tables; all of the components traditionally constructed with standard engineered wood containing formaldehyde and other toxic resins, can now be cultivated in our facilities using sustainable, grown products.”
The stool’s leather-like seat is made from MycoFlex cushions, a 100% mycelium foam product that replaces polystyrene, and other petroleum-based foams in packaging, horticulture, and building construction.
The line also includes a number of other home and office furniture products, including two other stools, a side table, a key holder, desk organizer, and a large desk. The entire piece of furniture is compostable.
“Ecovative’s new line of grown furniture fulfills the promise of a truly circular economy: every component can be returned to the earth without harm at the end of its useful life by providing nutrients, not pollutants, to the local environment,” says Bayer.
Mushroom sausages may sound like a delicious dish for vegans, but for Brunel University London student Aleksi Vesaluoma, they are the building material of the future, developed in collaboration with architecture firm Astudio.
Making building materials with mushrooms may sound absurd but in fact, it has many advantages. For instance, such materials are extremely light, they are biodegradable, don’t require baking in a kiln, and they are, in a sense, self-assembling.
Vesaluoma’s Grown Structures, as Aleski calls them, are made by taking the mycelium of an oyster mushroom and mixing it with damp cardboard. Mycelium is the vegetative part of the mushroom. That is, the fiber-like strands that spread out through the ground or dead vegetation looking for nutrients that makes up the vast bulk of the organism of which the mushrooms are just the tiniest tip of the necrophagus iceberg.
As these mycelia grow through the cardboard, they eat it, breaking up the organic matter into smaller particles that are easy to mold, then binding them together like glue. Pressed into a tubular cotton bandage to form “mushroom sausages,” the material can be molded into desired shapes over four weeks as they become denser and harder. These can then be cut and assembled into the finished structure.
Vesaluoma doesn’t say how strong his mushroom sausages are, but similar experiments aimed at making bricks out of mushrooms found that though the finished product may be 10,000 times less stiff than a house brick, it can still support the weight of 50 cars. However, the Brunel University sausages have the advantage over other attempts in that Vesaluoma doesn’t kill off the fungus before assembly. This means it continues to grow and the sausages start sprouting tasty oyster mushrooms that the inventor says might make the material attractive for restaurateurs. But in the short term, Vesaluoma says the material could be used in creating structures for festivals or other shortrun events that could be easily biodegraded afterwards.
The future of construction industry may lie in researching & usage of organic materials like “Mushrooms”. Soon the building blocks might be created out of fungus, which are more sustainable and eco-friendly.
Over decades of research and development, scientists are narrowing in on technologies which will allow engineers to use fungus as the main building material in future constructions.
Beneath the surface, mushrooms can quickly grow out thread-like roots called mycelium. In recent years, scientists have developed ways to make use of the web-like formations to create many materials, including bricks.
Architect David contructed some incredible mycotecture built from mushroom bricks! The architect and his firm, The Living, are pushing the boundaries of design by experimenting with biotecture, blurring the lines between biology and built environments. Their latest efforts have culminated in the world’s first tower made from fungus, which was at MoMA PS1 in Queens, New York. The Living collaborated with structural engineers to design a building made entirely from mushrooms. The team spent weeks investigating which techniques worked best to support the most weight.
After rigorous testing, the team decided to take on the task of building a structurally sound 40-foot tower. The tower consisted of 10,000 bricks and reached 40-feet into the air.
The bricks used to construct the building were grown in three separate molds. To make the bricks, researchers filled molds with organic matter infused with spores. It only takes five days for the mushrooms to transform the organic matter into a viable brick, making the process cheap and efficient. Although it is not the same as conventional building materials, the early stages of mycelium material engineering are proving hopeful.
As with most emerging technologies, to become a viable alternative to conventional building materials, the mushroom brick will still require extensive research and development. In essence, the brick is not as strong and does not have a long useful lifespan in comparison to most building materials.
One of the most commonly used construction materials is concrete. Concrete on its own maintains a compressive strength of concrete 4000 psi (28 MPa), up to 10,000 psi (70 MPa) depending on the requirements. Comparatively, the mushroom bricks can only withstand 30 Psi, or 0.2 MPa.
The mushroom brick weighs an astonishing 43 kg/m³. On the other hand, concrete weighs about 2,400 kg/m³. Despite the brick’s lack of compressive strength, its low density makes it useful in areas which do not need as much support. The bricks can be used as a both an insulator and as support for interior walls within a building.
The bricks are also surprisingly durable. Before being used to construct the 40-foot tower, engineers put the bricks under accelerated aging- a process which stimulates three years of weathering (wind, rain, and humidity) over a three-week period.
“After three years of accelerated aging the material performed exactly the same as it did originally,” says David Benjamin.
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