Developing local and responsible composite materials by cultivating strains of fungi on substrates of agro-industrial waste.
Both a resource and a living organism, mycelium can be used to produce biodegradable materials with no extractive processes and only minimal equipment. Myco Structure is exploring the properties of mycelium and its potential for creating biocomposites, using strains of fungi from southeastern France.
Mycelium grows by sending a rapid proliferation of fibers through a substrate made of organic material, for example waste. The network of fibers secretes enzymes that decompose the substrate, creating a compact composite.
Myco Structure has identified several kinds of unused organic matter in the bioregion that can be transformed through mycelium growth, in particular leftover parts of sunflower plants, rice straw, invasive plants, and olive pits.
Depending on the strain and the substrate, the resulting biocomposites vary in color, flexibility, strength, and appearance. Shaped on surfaces or in molds, the biocomposites are then subjected to tests with the aim of integrating them into architectural and interior projects.
Myco Structure’s understanding of mycelium has been advancing with the cultivation of new strains chosen for specific attributes, the maintenance of the Micro Cultures strain library, and the research conducted by the designers. Myco Structure also organizes workshops and participatory projects to inform the local public about the possibilities offered by this renewable resource, thereby rooting the project locally on a social and cultural level.
Marais du Viguerat
Institut polytechnique Rensselaer
New York, USA