“Mycocrete” May Eventually Replace Foam, Timber and Plastic

Researchers from Newcastle University have crafted a new bio-based material called “mycocrete”. Using mycelium combined with additional natural materials, the team can grow a tightly wound substrate stronger than previous mycelium materials. The knitted design can create 3D shapes without seams or waste.

“Our ambition is to transform the look, feel, and well-being of architectural spaces using mycelium in combination with bio-based materials such as wool, sawdust, and cellulose,” Jane Scott of Newcastle University says.

The mycocrete composite is made primarily of mycelium spores—part of the root network of fungi—and infused with grains that those spores can feed on and use to grow while packed into a mold inside a dark, humid, warm environment. Paper powder, paper fiber clumps, water, glycerin, and xanthan gum were later added. The scientists allowed the mycocrete to mature to the correct density and then dried it out.

The molds that grew the new material were knitted. “Knitting is an incredibly versatile 3D manufacturing system,” Scott said. “It is lightweight, flexible, and formable. The major advantage of knitting technology compared to other textile processes is the ability to knit 3D structures and forms with no seams and no waste.”

The knitted molds were oxygen-permeable, which allowed researchers to manipulate the production of the composite. The combination of materials, environment, and oxygen allowed for a tightly bound substrate.

Researchers believe the resulting mycocrete material could one day offer an inexpensive way to replace foam, timber, and plastic thanks to a more predictable and consistent manufacturing result than previous bio-based construction materials.

In the first proof-of-concept build, the team created a 6-foot-tall freestanding arched dome—they dubbed it BioKnit—with a single piece of flexible knit in the form of tubes.

“The mechanical performance of the mycocrete used in combination with permanent knitted formwork is a significant result,” Scott said, “and a step toward the use of mycelium and textile biohybrids within construction.”

You can read the original article at www.popularmechanics.com

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.