RMIT scientists have been looking into growing fungi in thin sheets that could be used for fire-retardant cladding or even a new kind of fungal fashion. Mycelium, an incredible network of fungal strands that can thrive on organic waste and in darkness, could be a basis for sustainable fireproofing. RMIT researchers are chemically manipulating its composition to harness its fire-retardant properties. Associate Professor Tien Huynh, an expert in biotechnology and mycology, said they’ve shown that mycelium can be grown from renewable organic waste.
“Fungi are usually found in a composite form mixed with residual feed material, but we found a way to grow pure mycelium sheets that can be layered and engineered into different uses – from flat panels for the building industry to a leather-like material for the fashion industry,” said Huynh.
The novel method of creating mycelium sheets that are paper-thin, like wallpaper, works without pulverizing the mycelium’s filament network. Instead, they used different growth conditions and chemicals to make the thin, uniform and – importantly – fire-resistant material.