Whilst it may sound strange to talk about mushrooms and construction in the same sentence, the future of our structures could absolutely lie with fungus. Mycelium is a rapid-growing, root-like network of fibres that is making waves across many industries and, indeed, in the area of environmentally-friendly construction.
So how exactly could mycelia be implemented in this industry, and what sorts of products could we start to see emerging?
One of the main areas showing promise using mycelium is as insulation. Biohm, a leading biomanufacturing company, has developed an insulation panel built from mycelia fibres, which has many benefits over traditional insulation methods.
These fungus-powered panels provide excellent thermal and acoustic insulation that performs better than petrochemical and plastic-based competitors and particularly shines in the field of fire protection.
As mycelium is a natural substance, it does not release the same toxic smoke that synthetic materials do upon burning. In addition, it produces much less heat and smoke overall, slowing any fire’s spread. This feature is perfect for insulation in construction, meaning mycelium has the potential to make buildings safer, warmer and generally more comfortable.
Mycelium has many advantages, not just when it comes to implementing it within builds but also when it comes to producing it. Because the substance grows by consuming other organic or synthetic substances, waste that might have otherwise gone to a landfill can instead be recycled and used to create this sustainable material. This method sequesters away the carbon present in the substances consumed during its growth that would have otherwise been released upon its incineration.
Mycelium is also cost-effective to produce and can be grown in any shape or size required, making it flexible, cheap, and without waste, so we can expect to see more of it in our buildings soon.