Mushrooms' mycelium root-like fiber system could be used as durable, biodegradable, non-toxic sustainable building material; California inventor has international patent pending

LOS ANGELES , October 17, 2012 () – Mushrooms could be the next sustainable building material, Discover reported Oct. 4.

Phil Ross, an amateur mycologist and artist-inventor based in California’s Bay Area, has an international patent pending on a technique for converting mushrooms’ mycelium root-like fiber system into a sustainable building material.

Dried mycelium is lightweight, fire-proof and water-resistant. It can be used as an effective insulating material. As a building material, mushrooms are durable, biodegradable and non-toxic.

Ross said he could grow mycelium bricks in approximately a week by pouring a mixture of pasteurized wood chips and small pieces of mushroom tissue into a mold. He said the bricks feel like a composite material, comprising a core of spongy cross grained pulp becoming denser towards the outer skin, which is “incredibly hard, shatter resistant, and can handle enormous amounts of compression,” Discover quoted.

Ross is not the only one taking note of mushrooms’ potential as a sustainable building material. Evocative Design, a start-up focused on making mycelium alternatives for insulation and polystyrene, has received grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Science Foundation.

The primary source of this article is Discover Magazine, New York, New York, on Oct. 4, 2012.

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