Fungus among us: Mushrooms finding use in multiple end markets

February 22, 2021 |

E&T Magazine has done a deep dive on the recent efforts to produce sustainable materials from mushrooms, with end markets including packaging, water capture, textiles, and home furnishings. 

According to E&T, New York-based Ecovative is developing a range of products, including animal-free leather, a replacement for polystyrene foam and even foam buoys and rafts. Designer Danielle Trofe is already using Ecovative materials to grow lampshades. “The growth process uses agricultural by-products, such as seed husks and corn stalks, and combines them with liquid mushroom mycelium,” a member of her design team tells E&T. “The mycelium then binds with these components and grows for several days in custom molds. When the growth process is complete, the material is heated and dried, ending the growth cycle.”

Also based in New York, NexLoop is using mushrooms to capture water from air and deliver it to plant roots. “Our vision of an integrated, nature-inspired food-water-energy nexus relies heavily on our ability to design a locally attuned and responsive food system and build multifunctional products to make agriculture, especially in urban environments, more resilient, affordable, and secure,” Jacob Russo, co-founder and architect of NexLoop, tells E&T.  We must address some of the underlying resource inputs and flows that underpin food production efforts.”

In France, Fungus Sapiens is growing mushrooms for food but also to produce compostable products for packaging, fabric, shoes, and other products. Founder, CEO and R&D director Mariana Dominguez-Peñalva says she chose mushrooms as a material while looking for solutions to issues such as hunger and pollution. “I asked myself how nature would solve these major problems,” she says. After researching other biomass sources, like biomass and seaweed, she settled on mushrooms because of its compostability and ability to be produced on large scale. The company is refining its process to reduce and potentially eliminate the need for additives like plasticizers. 

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Category: Chemicals & Materials

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