Moldable mycelium is proposed to be a new material similar to bioplastics. Mycelium is a form fungi growth where cells form a mesh network of strung together cells. Unlike other bioplastics the material is made of whole cells rather than polymerized refined molecules. The proposed process involves inoculating a feedstock with a fungal mycelium/spores and placing in a mold that will shape the mycelium growth. Moldable mycelium could be an advantageous process that produces a high quality product with minimal energy input and hardware as compared to other bioplastics. More research is necessary to identify mycelium with favorable traits. Depending on the mycelium different feedstocks may be used including low-value biomass that has had its sugars removed leaving cellulose and lignin. An even lower value residue from after cellulose extraction may also be tested.
Ganoderma lucidum (reishi) and Pleurotus (oyster mushrooms) are proposed to be suitable for growth as mycelium bioplastic and have been cultivated by humans for thousands of years. Both are cultivated on lignocellulosic material such as logs or wood chips. Fungi are respirators and need oxygen and produce CO2. Sterilization with steam or UV might control for contamination. Degrees of controlled growth with different mycelium can be tested to observe behavior and if growth can be efficiently and predictably controlled. If a species of mycelium that can be grown to conform to a confined shape can be identified further testings on shaping growth should be conducted with more complex molds.
1. Establish food and medicinal growths of both species. What is the decay of the nonfruiting body like (mycelium)? Experiment with chipping and cutting and shaping of material. Dessicate to make stable?
2. Test creation of stable product with heat treatment to kill the organism and dessicate to preserve. Will spores still exist and survice? Study allergy and environmental concerns.
3. Create molds of different shapes that allow gas exchange with minimal design obstruction. Fill with appropriate feedstock, inoculate, and incubate.
4. Try to establish growth on cellulose extracted or other spent agricultural material. Have defined characteristics of the extracted material. Experiment with supplementation of depleted nutrients, such as major and trace metals.
5. Investigate sporeless strains.
Used to metabolize benzene contamination http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC168037/pdf/622547.pdf