Mycelium products go from plastics to building applications.

Mycelium products go from plastics to building applications.

Mycelium is the vegetative part of fungus, characteristically a mass of branch all threaded-looking, where it creates little more fungal colonies and feeds itself; practically it’s the root of the mushroom with the capacity of spreading extensively.  The fast growth and spread of Mycelium facilitates the use of this organism and reproduce it in any container and shape desired. Versatility and sustainability have acquired an important role in society, which makes mycelium products, an innovative action for environmental awareness.

“Biologically, the vegetative mycelium is the most important part of the fungus: it does all the hard work of exploring and exploiting the substratum and feeding off it.”-British Mycological Society.

mycelium explorations 2

Mycelium Industrial Design by students Brian McClellan and Mercan Sisman. Mycelium Chair and 3d printed straw section by Eric Klarenbeek. Myx Lamp by Jonar Edvard

Industrial Designers have been experiencing with mycelium obtaining different results, and evidently these explorations are just starting and it won’t stop.

A company called Ecovative®, has designed a complete line of mycelium compostable products going from accessories, packaging, furniture and acoustic panels, plus building  and site applications. This are mushroom products, but in case you’re wondering… no, it won’t harm any human being.

Ecovative productsEcovative® compostable products, use mycelium and agricultural waste (by-products like cornstalk) combined; demonstrating these effective results:
• Automotive elements: Service part packaging, thermal & acoustic insulation, interior panels, impact bolsters.
• Mushroom Packaging.
• Surfing boards.
• Structural Biocomposites: Myco boards glue free,
• Building Insulation.
• Accoustic panels.

Eben Bayer, one of the creators of Ecovative®, explained his mycelium products, as the next plastic to save the environment with an explanation for the development of the product in the next video:

mushrooms

Besides designing products and or building applications with mycelium, bio-remediation is also in practice. Bio-remediation is the use of organisms directly to neutralize or remediate by elimination, pollutants in a specific area. Mycelium has been known as an organism with great filtration capabilities as well as dismantling bacteria colonies, pesticides and oil. Consequently, mycelium is being utilized for waterways clean-up without harming the natural environment, action also called mycofiltration.

This organism is surpassing many barriers of design, exposing as a material with superb capacities that only nature can provide so much, so fast and so efficient!
These are mycelium’s properties, once grown and produced:
• Impact and water absorbent.
• Flame and Vapor retardant, great for wall and roof insulation.
• Dielectric (poor electricity conductor, but supports electrostatic fields).
• Buoyant.
• Filtrant.
Without processing or mixing, mycelium works well as:
• Bacteria and pesticides fractant.
• Carbon Dioxide releaser into the environment.
• Aids for nutrients and water absorption of some plants.

mycelium upcloseUndoubtedly, this organism has exquisite properties to take advantage of, and as it is fast producing, it will never be scarce, it grows after rotten organic or dead matter, an order of life’s sequence.
So who else is wondering about mycelium? At ONELAB, New York School of Design and Science, in association with Terreform have developed a program with explorations on bio-materials, bio-remediation and other innovations in materials combined with technology aids such as parametric design, CNC, 3d printing and scripting. The combination of both scientific and architectural design and research, promises to be a great opportunity to wonder about innovation close to materials science, with the fundamental urban research and city analysis, using New York as case study. Considering the city and the complexity of the program, it must be an experience worth exploring.


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References:

“The Ecology and Physiology of the Fungal Mycelium.”British Mycological Society

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Mabelle Plasencia

Founder and Editor at INmatteria©
• Architect | LEED AP BD+C, with an intense passion for materiality, innovation, technology and science. • Arquitecta | LEED AP BD+C apasionada por la materialidad, innovación, tecnología y ciencia.