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Mushroom-based Biodegradable Packaging Material

Posted in Research by Kate Archdeacon on September 29th, 2010

Source: Inhabitat


Image: ecovative design

Ecovative Design in New York has used mushrooms to create a heat and fire-resistant, energy-absorbing, biodegradable (even anaerobically, without oxygen), and low-energy material called Mycobond. It was originally developed by two Rensselaer Polytechnic University grads under a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant — according to the NSF, Mycobond requires “… just one eighth the energy and one tenth the carbon dioxide of traditional foam packing material” to produce. It can be made in all shapes and thicknesses, depending on its use, and can replace unsustainable, environmentally persistent foam packaging in almost every application that it is currently used for. Think electronics packing, insulation, even as a panel or bumper for cars.

Before mushrooms can be grown the source material needs to be disinfected (to kill competing spores in order to hold its final shape), but that’s a natural process too. The inventors have replaced a more energy-intensive steam-treatment sterilization process with one that uses the natural organism-killing properties of “cinnamon-bark oil, thyme oil, oregano oil and lemongrass oil,” which anyone familiar with herbal remedies will recognize are often used for natural disinfection.

While initially designed to be sold to industrial-level businesses the world over, the company hopes to have an in-home system available by 2013 so we can all make our own mushroom materials to personal specifications.

Read the full article (with slideshow) by Starre Vartan.

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