Should people reside inside a house made with building materials made of fungus? It’s certainly not exclusively a rhetorical question: fungi are generally the most important to a new low-carbon, fire-resistant as well as termite-deterring building material.This particular material, known as a mycelium composite, uses the Trametes versicolor fungus to combine agricultural as well as industrial waste to create lightweight but strong bricks. It’s cheaper when compared with synthetic plastics or manufactured wood, and reduces the amount of waste that goes to garbage dump.
Fungal stone prototypes prepared from rice hulls and glass fines waste.
Working with our colleagues, we used fungus to bind rice hulls (the thin covering that protects rice grains) and glass fines (discarded, small or contaminated glass). We then baked the mixture to produce a new, natural building material.
Making these fungal bricks is a low-energy and zero-carbon process. Their construction implies they can be formed into many shapes. They are therefore well suited for a variety of uses, specifically in the packaging and construction industries.
The best staple crop for more than half the world’s population, rice has an once-a-year global consumption of more than 480 million metric tonnes and 20% of this is comprised of rice hulls. In England exclusively, we generate about 600,000 tonnes of glass waste a year. Frequently these rice hulls and glass fines are incinerated or transferred to landfill. So our new material offers a cost-effective way to reduce waste.
Fungal bricks make ideal fire-resistant insulation or paneling. The material is more thermally steady compared to synthetic construction materials such as for example polystyrene and particleboard, what kind of are derived from petroleum or natural gas.
Rice hulls, glass fines and the combination of rice, glass and fungi, before baking.
Which means that fungal bricks burn more slowly and with less heat, and release less smoke and carbon dioxide or co2 than their synthetic counterparts. Their widespread use in construction would therefore improve fire safety.
A large number of fires occur on a yearly basis and the main causes of deaths are smoke inhalation and carbon monoxide gas poisoning. Simply by reducing smoke release, fungal bricks could allow more time for escape or rescue in the event of a fire, thus potentially saving lives.Termites are a big issue: more than half of Australia is highly susceptible to termite infestations. These cost homeowners more than A $1.5 billion a year.
Our construction material could possibly provide a solution for combating infestations, as the silica content of rice as well as glass would make buildings less appetizing to termites.