New Building Material is Surprising to Many

Will anyone reside in a house made with building materials made of fungus? It’s certainly not just a rhetorical question: fungi are generally the most important to a newer low-carbon, fire-resistant as well as termite-deterring building material.This type of material, referred to as a mycelium composite, uses the Trametes versicolor fungus to incorporate agricultural as well as manufacturing waste to create lightweight but strong stones. It’s less expensive when compared with man made plastics or manufactured wood, and minimizes the range of waste material that goes to landfill.

Fungal brick prototypes prepared from rice hulls and glass fines waste products.
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 stones is a low-energy and zero-carbon process. Their structure means they can be moulded into various shapes. They are really therefore suited to a variety of uses, particularly in the packaging and building industries.

A staple crop for more than fifty percent of the world’s population, rice has an once-a-year global usage of more than 480 million metric tonnes and 20% of this is comprised of rice hulls. In Australia exclusively, we generate about 600,000 tonnes of glass waste material a year. Usually 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 stones 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.

Grain hulls, glass fines and the mixture of rice, glass and fungus, before cooking.
Which means that fungal bricks burn off more slowly and having less heat, and release less smoke and carbon dioxide than their artificial counterparts. Their widespread use in building would therefore improve fire safety.

A large number of fires occur every year and the main factors that cause deaths are smoke inhalation and carbon monoxide poisoning. By reducing smoke release, fungal stones could allow more time for escape or rescue in the instance of a flames, 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 building material could possibly provide a remedy for combating infestations, as the silicon oxide content of rice as well as glass would make structures less appetizing to termites.