Jun
27
2007

Morel of the story? Mushrooms could be a new insulation source

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!

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

Chris Suspect's picture

This is a very cool story. Where are these researchers from and what are their names? They deserve some credit.

posted on Wed, 06/27/2007 - 10:44am
bryan kennedy's picture

Good point Chris. This product was invented by Eben Bayer and Gavin McIntyre who are students of mechanical engineering and product design innovation at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. They will be launching their research product into a full fledge company soon.

This is a cool reminder that young fresh ideas can come from free thinking students an not just big companies with large research budgets.

posted on Wed, 06/27/2007 - 5:15pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Bayer and McIntyre have started Ecovative Design, in Troy, New York. Check it out: Greensulate isn't their only cool invention, and I'm betting it won't be their last.

posted on Tue, 01/15/2008 - 3:20pm
jeff rhody's picture
jeff rhody says:

whattheheck.

posted on Wed, 06/27/2007 - 11:59am
diamond2008's picture
diamond2008 says:

I DONT BELIEVE IT

posted on Thu, 03/06/2008 - 10:17am
Oscar Davis - Good Credit's picture

[email protected]

Why the disbelief? It's not like this news is something you read on an incredible morning tabloid (not to mention that we are in a site that publishes REAL scientific breakthroughs and stuff). The boys' work are indeed impressive. Who would've thought that The Mario Brothers' favorite height enhancer is actually a potential insulator? Now that's something King Bowser should be afraid of. ;-)

Oscar

posted on Fri, 02/13/2009 - 10:21am

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <h3> <h4> <em> <i> <strong> <b> <span> <ul> <ol> <li> <blockquote> <object> <embed> <param> <sub> <sup>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • You may embed videos from the following providers vimeo, youtube. Just add the video URL to your textarea in the place where you would like the video to appear, i.e. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pw0jmvdh.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Images can be added to this post.

More information about formatting options