Company grows durable, sustainable materials from fungusFebruary 4, 2012
Alternative energies garner the majority of attention from the media when it comes to sustainability. There is more to sustainability that renewable fuel, however, as Ecovative Design, a biomaterials company, is keen to show. The company has made a name for itself in the realm of sustainable materials but replacing the harmful chemicals found in most industrial products with what it calls “mushroom technology.” Indeed, the company uses fungus to create anything from insulation to packaging materials.
The fungus in question is mycelium, a thread-like network of fungal components that is, essentially, a naturally occurring adhesive. The fungus is grown in the dark, fed with plant stalks and seed husks until for about a week. It is then harvested and heated to halt any further growth. After heating, the fungus becomes a very durable, waterproof material that can be used in a variety of ways.
The company has used the fungus-material to package wine and food products. Ecovative Design claims that the material can be used in place of industrial adhesives that are common environmental hazards without sacrificing the safety of products. Despite the material’s origins, it is clean enough to even replace Styrofoam cups and can be used as a container for any liquid.
Sustainability is an all encompassing issue. While much of the issue is occupied with science concerning alternative energy, materials still play a major factor in the health of the environment. Finding alternative materials is, for all intents and purposes, just as important to the world as finding alternatives to oil and other fossil-fuels.