Mushroom technology is, apparently, the latest in green design, as two Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute students have created “greensulation”, an alternative to Polystyrene Structural Insulation.
In our own homes, we might have already made an investment in standard insulation to conserve energy in the home, but standard varieties of the home-hugging padding still take a toll on the environment. Most of them are manufactured from petroleum-based Styrofoam or fibreglass, both of which are non-biodegradable and expensive to produce.
So when students Gavin McIntyre and Eben Bayer began to explore eco-friendly alternatives made of biodegradable materials, they knew they were on to something. With the main ingredient as mushrooms, you can also use leftovers for your stir-fry after outfitting your home. (Just kidding.)
Greensulate™ is an organic solution to previous insulation alternatives. Requiring almost no energy, it is more efficient than the costly counterparts. Composed of rice hulls, recycled papers, and mushroom fibres, it is water-repellent and flame-retardant, and has the ability to resist temperature change.
It was Bayer’s idea to develop a, now patented, insulation from oyster mushrooms. The fungi’s mycelia – thousands of tough, tiny threads – is what makes its strength superior. The secret is in the colonizing nature of these spores, and when combined with other natural sources, they bind together to create a foam-like insulation. After the insulation is developed, they use hydrogen peroxide to slow down the process, otherwise it would keep growing, and eventually, actual mushrooms would be produced.
Ecovative Design, their company, aims to explore this idea (and others) to build sustainable building products to hit the market as early as 2010.
The company also offers Acorn™, a compostable packaging material.
Visit their website for more information: ecovativedesign.com