Do you ever stop to really think about what materials your home is constructed from and the environmental impact? Scientists are, and a handful believe the fungus that creates mushrooms is the future of more sustainable homes, according to Horizon: The EU Research & Innovation Magazine. That’s right, at some point you might live in a house constructed from fungus. Even more interesting is that the building could be capable of “healing” itself.
Mycology is the biological study of fungi, and myco-materials are materials created from parts of fungi. Myco-materials are sustainable, strong, and non-toxic.
- Some scientists are exploring the possibility of growing fungi in molds to create bricks or pressing them to create boards. Others are developing fungi-based insulation.
- While some of the innovations involve killing the fungus after it has formed the material, others are exploring keeping it alive so it can regrow if the structure is damaged. A living mushroom building might automatically respond to changing environmental conditions, such as a CO2 build-up.
- A key challenge is overcoming the natural fungal decomposition over time. “What if some—not all—of our buildings were meant to only last a couple of years and could thereafter be recycled into shelter, food, or energy?” Jonathan Dessi Olive, assistant professor of architecture at Kansas State University, said in the article. Olive is heralded as one of the few people globally to explore using fungi in building construction.
🌽 AGRICULTURE: The Minnesota Corn Growers Association and Minnesota Corn Research & Promotion Council released a series of videos featuring research and innovations that boost both sustainability and profitability. One of the topics is ethanol’s role in the electric vehicle sector.
☀️ SOLAR: The Iowa Economic Development Authority provided a grant to the Electric Power Research Center at Iowa State University to develop a solar power crate that will be installed at Camp Dodge in Johnston, Iowa. The device essentially is a shipping crate equipped with solar panels that serves as a portable energy source. Data collected during this project will inform simulation studies and validate the microgrid’s functionality. The power crate shows promise for providing energy during disaster response scenarios and other applications where a localized energy source is needed.
The solar crate is currently located near downtown Ames, Iowa.
🏃 ACCELERATOR: The Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the University of Chicago recently launched Compass, called a first-of-its-kind deep tech accelerator program for early-stage entrepreneurs and technologies. Program participants will hail from the University of Chicago, Argonne National Laboratory, and Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory and will receive six months of support. The second cohort launched this month.
- The International Biomass Conference and Expo will take place virtually on March 16 and 17. It will include sessions featuring 85 speakers, a virtual exhibit hall, and virtual networking rooms. The event is produced by Biomass Magazine, based in Grand Forks, North Dakota.
- Argonne National Laboratory will host Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day on Feb. 18. Eighth grade students will be able to virtually explore engineering careers, connect with a mentor, and compete in a team challenge.
- Ohio State University is holding a virtual workshop, Advanced BioSystems Workshop: Growing the Bioeconomy in Uncertain Times, on Feb. 12. Session topics include biobased products and fuel and logistics from crops to markets.