Greensulate Insulation from Mushrooms

Could mushroom spores replace conventional foam insulations?

A renewable source of sustainable insulation from mushrooms that also acts as a firewall (and could even be grown into a whole house) was invented at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and is planned to be commercialized under the label Greensulate by Eben Bayer and Gavin McIntyre as soon as they are satisfied with their research and feel their technology is robust enough to meet demand.

The insulation is created by pouring a mixture of insulating particles, hydrogen peroxide, starch, and water into a panel mold, Bayer says. Mushroom cells are then injected into the mold, where they digest the starch producing a tightly meshed network of insulating particles and mycelium. The end result is an organic composite board that has a competitive R-Value a measurement of resistance to heat flow and can serve as a firewall.

While still young, Eben Bayers mushroom insulation invention shows promise as one fifth of the energy used in America today comes from poorly insulated homes and the conventional foam insulation we use are neither from a renewable source of energy, nor biodegradable.

For a country that is setting the tide for a worldwide green living revolution, Bayers invention is perfect timing.

Beyond insulation applications, the duo envision modifying the growing mixture slightly to include reinforcing materials that could be used to create strong, sustainable growable homes. Examples of this application include inexpensive structural panels that could be grown and assembled on-site in developing nations where usable housing is scarce and generally hard to obtain, or in disaster areas where temporary housing is essential.

Sustainable insulation from mushrooms, an environmentally clean firewall technology and perhaps even a more sustainable home that is thermodynamically more efficient than traditional non-biodegradable insulated ones have been; perhaps the time has come to think Greensulate?

Press Release:
Commencement 2007: Graduate Develops “Growable” Solution to Energy Issues

Organic insulation could replace traditional
foam insulation
– Lemelson-Rensselaer Student Prize: Eben Bayer Finalist (adobe pdf file)

Science Daily – Article on Mushroom Insulation


Posted in Sustainable by admin on June 25, 2007.

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