via Ecovative Design
Recently the co-founders of Ecovative Design, who live by the cradle-to-cradle philosophy, have invented two revolutionary new products from mushroom roots, ""Greensulate"" and "Acorn". These two products could be alternative products for energy conservation and waste reduction. "Acorn" is a compostable packaging material and "Greensulate" is an organic insulation.
To make "Acorn" and "Greensulate", the founders of Ecovative Design, Gavin McIntyre and Eben Bayer, use the roots of mushrooms known as fungal mycelium. The fungal mycelium acts as resin http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Resin. The resin gives agricultural byproducts the ability to bond into "a rigid material" Because the mycelium is not allowed to grow long enough to produce mushrooms there is no risk of the production of spores and allergens.
What inspired Gavin McIntyre and Eben Bayer to use mushrooms? They "were fascinated by mushrooms growing on wood chips, and observing how the fungal mycelium strongly bonded the wood chips together. This inspired them to think of new ways of using mycelium as a resin." Their idea worked and ever since they have won grant after grant to continue testing and developing these ideas.
Additionally, the founders have considered every aspect of their products and the impact of their products on the environment, "our source materials, our production process, the product's route to its market and its end-of-use impact-is geared toward efficiency, sustainability and environmental friendliness." An example of Ecovative Design eco-conscious is its uses of locally sourced raw materials. It also grows its products in the dark at room temperature. This makes the company less energy-intensive and cheaper to manufacture than other insulating and packaging materials.
"Acorn" and "Greensulate":
"Acorn" is an earth-friendly innovation that is as "reliable, easy to use, and affordable as competitive packaging products, like expanded polystyrene." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polystyrene
"Acorn" breaks down naturally (100% compostable after use) in your garden or compost and can be embedded with grass, plants, seeds and other organic material to act as a fertilizer of sorts. These organic materials draw fuel from "Acorn" as it breaks down. "Acorn" can also just be thrown away.
For packaging "Acorn" can be used to package heavy items as well as fragile items and because of its insulating properties it can be used to ship items that need insulation. "Acorn" can also be formed into any shape or size. "Acorn" it isn't comprised of fossil fuels. As a result, it requires very little energy to produce
"Greensulate" is produced from natural byproducts local to the area (buckwheat hulls and cotton burrs) without the use of heat or any light input. Using this insulation in homes and building could improve energy efficiency as well as provide protections since "Greensulate" also acts as a firewall. In addition, there are no allergy or health risks involved with "Greensulate".
Don't expect to be able to go out and buy "Acorn" and "Greensulate" just yet. It is still in developmental and testing phases, but Ecovative is looking for parties interested in testing this eco-friendly product.
For more information please go to Ecovative Design website at http://www.ecovativedesign.com/index.html.
Could these inventions one day replace Styrofoam? Let's hope so.