Industrial Strength Fungus
February 3, 2010 9:23 AM Subscribe
Industrial Strength Fungus.
At an organic farm just outside Monterey, Calif., a super-eco building material is growing in dozens of darkened shipping containers. The farm is named Far West Fungi
, and its rusting containers are full of all sorts of mushrooms--shiitake, reishi and pom-pom, to name a few. This new application of mushrooms is sometimes referred to as "mycotecture", but the idea of mycorestoration
[TED talk: "6 ways mushrooms can save the world"] is not new.Mycelium
(the thin, white rootlike fibers of fungi) doesn't taste very good, but once it's dried, it has some remarkable properties. It's nontoxic, fireproof and mold- and water-resistant, and it traps more heat than fiberglass insulation. It's also stronger, pound for pound, than concrete. One artist, Phil Ross
, has begun experimenting with building bricks made of mycelium. And a new company, Ecovative Design
, is trying to create a biodegradable mushroom-based styrofoam that, when finished, can be used as garden compost. They have a blog
and were highlighted in this NPR story.