Stories tagged Greensulate

Jun
27
2007

Green insulation: That plate of oyster mushrooms you're going to eat could soon be the insulation inside the walls of your home if two young researchers continue to have success with their plans for "Greensulate," insulation that's made from mushrooms and other renewable products. (Photo by ulterior epicure)
Green insulation: That plate of oyster mushrooms you're going to eat could soon be the insulation inside the walls of your home if two young researchers continue to have success with their plans for "Greensulate," insulation that's made from mushrooms and other renewable products. (Photo by ulterior epicure)
Maybe the Hobbits and those little creatures from the fairy tales were on to something. Mushrooms may just be the thing when it comes to insulating your home or building.

Researchers are using mushrooms as a key ingredient in “Greensulate,” an environmentally-friendly, renewal form of insulation. Here’s the recipe for the insulating boards that are fire resistant and organic: water, flour, oyster mushroom spores and perlite, a mineral that is often found in potting soil.

You won’t find “Greensulate” at a building supplies store near for at least another year. More work needs to be done to make the concept commercially viable. But a team of researchers is confident that they’re on to a good, green idea.

So far, the two 20-something developers, college graduates just this spring, have been growing the concoctions under their beds. But they’ve applied for grant money from the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance.

So far, so good with the testing results. A one-inch thick piece of “Greensulate” had a 2.9 R-value, the scale used for rating insulation. Most current commercially produced fiberglass insulation has an R-value of between 2.7 and 3.7.

The beauty of “Greensulate” is that it doesn’t take a lot of energy or toxic materials to produce. Here's how it works: A mixture of water, mineral particles, starch and hydrogen peroxide are poured into 7-by-7-inch molds and then injected with living mushroom cells. The hydrogen peroxide is used to prevent the growth of other specimens within the material.

Placed in a dark environment, the cells start to grow, digesting the starch as food and sprouting thousands of root-like cellular strands. A within two weeks, a 1-inch-thick panel of insulation is fully grown. It's then dried to prevent fungal growth, making it unlikely to trigger mold and fungus allergies. The finished product resembles a giant cracker in texture.

The inventors also envision using the process to create building walls, like sheetrock, that could be installed and provide good insulating properties.

There’s no word, yet, if people living and working inside those walls will feel especially happy or have the munchies!