Will people reside in a house made with building materials made of fungus? It’s certainly not exclusively a rhetorical question: fungi are generally the most important to a newer low-carbon, fire-resistant and termite-deterring building material.This kind of material, known as a mycelium composite, uses the Trametes versicolor fungus to combine agricultural and industrial waste to create lightweight but strong stones. It’s less expensive when compared with synthetic plastics or engineered wood, and reduces the amount of waste that goes to landfill.
Fungal brick prototypes prepared from rice hulls furthermore glass fines waste.
Working with our colleagues, we used fungus to bind rice hulls (the thin covering that protects rice grains) and glass fines (discarded, small or contaminated glass). We then baked the mixture to produce a new, natural building material.
Making these fungal stones is a low-energy and zero-carbon process. Their structure means they can be formed into many patterns. They are really therefore well suited for a variety of uses, specifically in the packaging and construction industries.
A staple crop for more than fifty percent of the world’s population, rice has an once-a-year global usage of more than 480 million metric tonnes and 20% of this is comprised of rice hulls. In Australia alone, we generate about 600,000 tonnes of glass waste a year. Frequently these rice hulls and glass fines are incinerated or transferred to landfill. So our new material offers a cost-effective way to reduce waste.
Fungal stones make ideal fire-resistant insulation or paneling. The material is more thermally steady compared to synthetic construction materials such as polystyrene and particleboard, what kind of are derived from petroleum or natural gas.
Grain hulls, glass fines and the mixture of rice, glass and fungi, before baking.
This means that fungal bricks burn more slowly and with less warming, and release less smoke and carbon dioxide or co2 than their synthetic counterparts. Their widespread use in construction would therefore improve fire safety.
Thousands of fires occur every year and the main causes of fatalities are smoke inhalation and carbon monoxide gas poisoning. Simply by reducing smoke release, fungal stones could allow more time for escape or rescue in the event of a fire, thus potentially saving lives.Termites are a big issue: more than half of Australia is highly susceptible to termite infestations. These cost homeowners more than A $1.5 billion a year.
Our construction material could provide a remedy for combating infestations, as the silicon oxide content of rice and glass would make buildings less appetizing to termites.