Insulation and packing material made from rice hulls and fungus

Scientific American profiles the creators of "Greensulate", an organic insulation made from rice hulls, recycled paper, and fungus:
They incorporated three basic ingredients in a solution of water and hydrogen peroxide: mycelium mushroom roots; perlite, a glassy volcanic mineral used by farmers to aerate soil; and recycled paper. They poured the mixture into a seven-by-seven-inch (17.8 centimeters) plastic container and stuck it under a bed in their apartment (Greensulate must be kept in the dark while it is growing). The mycelium fed off the natural sugars in the recycled paper, causing it to grow, tightly bind the perlite, and take the shape of the plastic container. The perlite created small insulating air pockets within this new rigid, beige-colored panel, which they then baked at 110 degrees F (43.3 degrees C) to remove all water from the finished product and assure that mold and spores do not photosynthesize. Bayer and McIntyre also experimented by replacing perlite with rice hulls, which form similar air pockets. The rice hulls are roughly 10 times cheaper than perlite. Greensulate panel of any size can be grown in five to 14 days, Bayer says, and will last for the life of the building in which it is installed. Manufacturing space should come relatively cheap because all Bayer and McIntyre need is someplace big and dark. "It could be an old Kmart," McIntyre says, "or even an abandoned mine shaft."
More directly germane to consumer electronics, the company is also developing "Acorn", a compostable packing material.
This entry was posted in acorn, Consumption, greensulate and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Insulation and packing material made from rice hulls and fungus

  1. kleer001 says:

    Silly inventors, mushrooms don’t photosynthesize nor do they have “roots”. The mycelia IS the mushroom. The “mushroom” part we eat is the fruiting body, basically its genitals. Not common knowledge I guess.
    Someone on the internet is wrong. I must help!

  2. dculberson says:

    This is VERY similar to a published method for growing magic mushrooms… so I have a few opinions about where these guys got their ideas. nudge, nudge.

    (Okay, really any mushrooms can be grown like that, but …)

    Mralistair’s points are very valid; the actual insulating value needs to be tested and published, along with the durability. Just baking it doesn’t eliminate the nutritional value, and the last thing you want to do is pack your walls full of yummy bug food. And moisture is in our walls all the time, even new houses; the vapor barrier they wrap houses in is permeable and breathable. You get a lot of moisture exchange as the seasons change.

    But hopefully they have tested or will be testing it and will release their results.

  3. Anonymous says:

    agree w/ previous posters.
    they could use it for packaging but probably not for insulation.

    also, the energy require to bake it may make it less green.

  4. Halloween Jack says:

    I wonder how these things would go with a little hot sauce?

  5. WalterBillington says:

    Beautiful. Only it’s a bit of a fixed-gear idea. 5-14 days doesn’t lend itself to mass-production. Hopefully they can work on that and have us all using it.

    All for it.

    We eat mushroom genitals? Oh dear. I won’t be telling that to my children – at least until they’re 8, and can be properly disgusted by it.

  6. mralistair says:

    In terms of building insulation i’m going to call vapourware on this.

    They don’t seem to say it’s thermal conductivity so for all we know it’s 1/10 as efficient as polystyene or PIR.

    plus in terms of building insulation, biodegradability is a complete no-no, a little moisture and you have mush not insulation. plus it should not provide sustainance to vermin, and i wonder if this will.

    for custom packaging or specially shaped/moulded packaging or insulation it looks good.

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