Cement and concrete have been under the microscope for a number of years due to the amount of carbon created in the manufacturing process. There are many scientists throughout the world that are looking to crack the code on a new form of concrete-like material that has all of the benefits that concrete possesses. It’s a tall task, that’s why concrete has been used for hundreds of years. The latest example of scientific innovation comes from mushrooms.
Thanks to a video and an article from The Verge, we have an inside look at the process that was developed to make a brick made of mushrooms. By taking a small sample of a cracked cap polypore, a mushroom that you may know better by its Latin name – say it with me – Phellinus robiniae. The fungi grows on a black locust tree and is a hard mushroom, a property which would lead them to better success in the lab.
After finding one of these cracked cap polypores, the team cut off a small sample, placed even smaller samples into separate petri dishes, and waited for it to grow mycelium. Mycelium is kind of like the mushroom’s root system, which are small interwoven fibers that help with strength. Growing those fibers are the researcher’s path to creating the final brick.
Once the mycelium grown and become viable, it’s cut out of the petri dish and placed in a small jar of grains to grow for a week. After that, the mixture is moved into a larger container full of sawdust pellets and soybean hulls for another week. That final mixture is then placed in a brick mold to continue to strengthen for one more week. Lastly, the brick is baked for a few hours on low heat to stop the mushrooms from growing.
The total process to make one brick took over 4 weeks and the commercial viability of mushroom bricks is still in its infancy, but it is an interesting experiment to show how nature and building materials could eventually become intertwined…………like the mycelium – hold your applause.
Below is the video from The Verge, which shows the whole process of making and testing the brick. It also features one of my new favorite humans, William Padilla-Brown, who loves funghi more than you’ve ever loved anything. If you do nothing else in this world, find someone that looks at you the way William looks at a mushroom.