Just the other night while I was on vacation, a fire alarm went off in our hostel and I slightly panicked that we would meet our end in a small albeit picturesque corner of the world. It’s not something that anyone would want but with the way most buildings are structured, it’s also a very distinct possibility. But what if there was a flame-resistant and sustainable material that can prevent things like this from happening and what if that material is fungi?
Designer: RMIT University
A team from a Melbourne university has now been able to create material from the chemical composition of mycelium that is fire-retardant and can eventually be used for building insulation. Basically, you’re turning fungi into mycelium sheets that can be used for the building industry and even other industries like fashion. Not only is it fire-retardant but it is alos sustainable and also scalable to some extent.
They were able to produce this paper thin layer that can be put over flammable substrates and this was done through the process of bioengineering these fungi. The mycelium turns into char when exposed to intense heat or fire so this is something that can used for building insulation if you want to keep the structure fireproof. They will also be able to collaborate with the mushroom industry to help it become a bit more scalable.
There is also that added bonus of the fungi being safe not just for humans but also a good thing for the environment. Bioderived mycelium is plastic and toxins free band is also able to produce naturally occurring water and carbon dioxide. The researchers are now working on creating bioengineered fungal mats to boost the fire-safety ratings in buildings as they aim to be able to reduce flame intensity in a sustainable way.