Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Corn Stalks and Mushroom Compost Make Great SIP Walls

Agricultural waste offers promising insulating material: mycelium. 

Eben Bayer, CEO of Ecovative Design in Green Island, N.Y., says that the stringy fungal material has the same flexural strength as polystyrene, but far superior compressive strength. In fact, pound for pound, mycelium is stronger than concrete. “We combine mycelium cells with low-grade agricultural waste [such as plant stalks] … and put it in a mold, where the cells digest corn stalk and form more mass,” he says. The undigested corn serves as scaffolding for “living plastic,” a white, porous, and hard substance that’s nontoxic, fireproof, and mold and water resistant.

Providing an insulation value of R-3 or R-4 per inch of thickness, mycelium can be used in applications such as insulation, structural insulating panels, acoustical tiles, and building blocks. Biocomposite mycelium sheets, which are virtually VOC free, can even replace conventional particleboard. Ecovative plans to launch a building product line commercially this year.

I found it interesting that there are 8 miles of fibers in every square inch! I'm so looking forward to seeing a modular factory using either the insulation or the SIPs in their homes. Sure beats using those straw bales or recycled blue jeans to have hit the market for insulating homes.

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