Prototype can release mushroom spores to remove toxicity in wildfire-hit areas

If you live in the area where wildfires are a constant problem and threat, things like pollution and a toxic environment are things you have to deal with in the aftermath (aside from the obvious dangers of the fire of course). And with global warming continuing to wreak havoc, it’s also become dangerous for places not normally affected by things like this, like when we saw the rising heat levels in parts of Europe this summer. There are product designers out there thinking of solutions to somehow help make life better for those who are affected by wildfires.

Designer: Suzie McMurtry

The Living with Wildfire system is a yet untested prototype for a mycelium pod that cant withstand fire and has water and dormant oyster mushroom spores inside. The idea is that when a wildfire happens, the water will evaporate and bring pressure inside the steel vessel that is sealed with a cork. When the cork finally launches into the air, the spores will be spread out into the area and then take root in spots when the fire is finally over and reduce toxicity in the soil and air. The system uses an experimental method called mycoremediation which uses fungi to remove pollutants from a toxic environment.

The system looks like a lamp on a stand and multiple ones need to be set up in areas where there’s a likelihood of wildfires occurring. The pod itself or the spore canon is like an upside-down water or perfume bottle with the cork facing the ground. It is made of mycelium, the vegetative part of the fungus which has fire retardant properties. The prototype has oyster mushroom spores and the pod uses a minimalist, naturalist design. The system is actually modeled after the fireproof seedpods of trees like the lodgepole pine and Australian banksia.

The pod has tags with the Latin name of the mushroom spores inside and it is made from quick-melting pewter. Once fire hits it, it will melt into the steel rim of the frame that holds it. People can also pile branchs and brush under the pod to hasten the process of the spores being released once fire hits it. And even when there’s no fire, the Living with Wildfire system can serve as a reminder to people who see it that there’s always the danger of wildfire in that area.