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Homegrown Mushroom Mycelium Insulation Panels

 
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Have you tried adding strands of hemp plant for durability?
 
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Wendy Bays wrote:Have you tried adding strands of hemp plant for durability?



I haven't!  I haven't really messed around with hemp at all.  It's an interesting and meritorious plant with a rich history of varied use, but it invites a ton of scrutiny in my part of the world.  Especially considering there are so many other more . . . undervalued and overlooked plants with comparable qualities.

I would be interested to hear if others are incorporating hemp or any particular fibrous vegetation into their substrate.
 
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She'd make a plaster cast of her client and make a positive form from that. She'd apply a nutrient gel to that form, and leave it in her damp cellar to grow fluffy. When ready, she'd strip that off the form, and take it down to her local stream (she lived in a hilly area) and leave it in the water for the water life to finish off the loose organic material for a few days. She could then dry it and supply her customer.  


Sounds like background for a new superhero, complete with suit of armor...
 
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A friend of mine has suggested that this material might possibly be usable for flat-panel speaker applications as well (aka Distributed Mode Loud [DML] speakers).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zdkyGDqU7xA -- here's a fairly in-depth explanation & demonstration.

I'm not sure if it's realistic to "speakerize a wall" or anything like that (to work, these need to be as physically isolated in space as possible), but I'm curious if someone is able to slap a $6 exciter on the back of a panel and see what happens.  

It'd just be pretty great to say "I grew my own speakers."
 
Beau M. Davidson
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Ben Adams wrote:A friend of mine has suggested that this material might possibly be usable for flat-panel speaker applications as well (aka Distributed Mode Loud [DML] speakers).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zdkyGDqU7xA -- here's a fairly in-depth explanation & demonstration.

I'm not sure if it's realistic to "speakerize a wall" or anything like that (to work, these need to be as physically isolated in space as possible), but I'm curious if someone is able to slap a $6 exciter on the back of a panel and see what happens.  

It'd just be pretty great to say "I grew my own speakers."



Yes!  Now, as an audio engineer and an spacial-acoustical artist, I originally conceived of this project for studio and environmental acoustical treatment panels.  I had not yet considered attaching an actuator, and the possibility that the panels could be made for dual purpose - to mitigate room modes, and also to produce sound.  That's a really cool concept.  

When you talk about isolating the panel from the room, that's actually required for best-performance acoustical panels anyway - so all you're talking about is adding the actuator.  And probably growing the mycelium as dense and rigid as possible.  

I can further envision a scenario where a microphone is incorporated to the front side of the panels, and the actuator is designed to produce a polar inverse of the incoming signal - thusly making active sound-deadening surfaces.  If have seen this in action for urban city-dwellers, where a device is attached to windows, producing sound-negating vibrations to lessen the encroachment of street-noise.
 
Ben Adams
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So, I guess I'm envisioning an initial panel, grown for ideal insulation/strength/dampening properties, and "bolted" to whatever creates the frame or structure of the house; then an air gap of an inch or three; then a secondary panel, grown for ideal resonance properties, and perhaps strategically "lumpy" on the backside instead of flat (watch the YouTube video).  Secondary panels could be floor-to-ceiling and thus would create a tertiary insulation layer (counting the air gap as the secondary).

Now if you can only grow a bioluminscent fungal layer on top of all that, you'll have structure, insulation, lighting, and tunes all in one medium.  
 
Beau M. Davidson
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Now if you can only grow a bioluminscent fungal layer on top of all that, you'll have structure, insulation, lighting, and tunes all in one medium.  



Ha!  That's quite a concept.  

As far as I've seen, bioluminescence is currently being imparted only through genetic engineering.  I suppose it's not too far out of reach with CRISPR, but man I'm terrified of that.  Too much sci-fi lit on my bookshelf, I guess.
 
Ben Adams
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No, just these guys.    God's own.  No GMO required.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_bioluminescent_fungus_species
 
Beau M. Davidson
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Fungus.  What can't it do?TM
 
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Coydon Wallham wrote:
Sounds like background for a new superhero, complete with suit of armor...



"Myco-Maiden!  Saving the world with her mega-mesh powers!"

...alternatively:  "Myco-Man!  He's a really fun guy!"

(sorry, had to take the easy one on that)
 
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Really cool project!

Random idea: For introducing silica particles into the mycelium, one way might be to mix horsetail (Equisetum sp) or another high-silica plant into the substrate. Imagine you could get the mycelium to grow on a 50-50 mix of straw and Equisetum hyemale, for instance. Assuming it's possible (and the fungus doesn't spit it out) you would theoretically end up with a board consisting of minimum 10% silica phytoliths by dry weight (and probably more, since some of the organic material in the substrate will be used up). The phytoliths will also probably be tightly bound within the structure, since the mycelium will have had to wrap each phytolith very tightly to get all the organic material that surrounded it.
 
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Eino Kenttä wrote:Really cool project!

Random idea: For introducing silica particles into the mycelium, one way might be to mix horsetail (Equisetum sp) or another high-silica plant into the substrate. Imagine you could get the mycelium to grow on a 50-50 mix of straw and Equisetum hyemale, for instance. Assuming it's possible (and the fungus doesn't spit it out) you would theoretically end up with a board consisting of minimum 10% silica phytoliths by dry weight (and probably more, since some of the organic material in the substrate will be used up). The phytoliths will also probably be tightly bound within the structure, since the mycelium will have had to wrap each phytolith very tightly to get all the organic material that surrounded it.



Great idea!  I actually mentioned the inclusion of horsetail in my original post, but I haven't yet given it a great deal of thought or research.

me wrote:4) Potential insulation for rocket stove/rocket mass heater heat riser, as lab testing has shown fire-resistance of mycelium at over 1400*F.  Heat resistance is increased by the inclusion of silica in substrate, which becomes suspended in mycelial polymers.  Possibilities substrate ingredients include: rice hulls, common sand, horsetail.

 
Eino Kenttä
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Ah, sorry, missed that... Really look forward to seeing where you go with this project!
 
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Have you considered growing easy assemble dome-home panels?
 
Beau M. Davidson
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Eino Kenttä wrote:Ah, sorry, missed that... Really look forward to seeing where you go with this project!



Not a problem at all!  I am thankful fur your insights and thoughtful comment!  I had not yet done the legwork to determine silica percentage, so your comment is welcome and helpful.  It takes a village to raise a . . . um . . . mushroom.  
 
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Wendy Bays wrote:Have you considered growing easy assemble dome-home panels?



I had not considered that, specifically, as yet - but it's a great idea.  Could go with molds in the shape of Buckminster Fuller's specification, with some click-together functionality.  Then, after assembly could apply a rendered waterproof membrane to the exterior.  I would love to see this in action!
 
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It's a bit past time to transfer my panel forms of inoculated substrate into some sort of fruiting conditions.  I decided I would try this batch in an outdoor fruiting tunnel, a lot like a low tunnel at a market garden.  It's a modification of what you see in this video:



There's a few differences besides what you see in the video and what I'm attempting.  Obviously, my stuff is in rectangular bins instead of plastic bags, and I'm going to try leaving it in the bins for fruiting.  Also, I don't want to bury them in soil, because I want my panels nice and clean after harvest.  So, for 3 of my prototypes, I removed the plastic and covered in rough mulch, and for the other 3, I left the plastic sheet over the top, cutting slits for reishi antlers to emerge.

Here's what I used to put it together:

*off-cuts of eastern red cedar from our mill
*some regular ol' fencing
*reclaimed shade cloth
*reclaimed plastic sheeting
*deck screws
*pneumatic stapler
*binder clips
*clamps











The final tunnel is the right dimensions to completely cover six panel-bins arranged side-by-side.  

Update images on the inoculated panels coming in my next update.
 
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Here are the panels after 3 weeks of colonizing, prior to placing them in the outdoor fruiting tunnel.

Some observations:
*Most panels had not yet begun to produce antlers, the immature form of the reishi fruiting body.  A couple of them were beginning to show fruiting traits.
*The straw by itself performed poorly.  As reishi is said not to thrive on straw, I am not surprised.  It did not colonize completely (<50%) and has lots of competing mold.
*Straw with the addition of some rye grain and molasses did surprisingly well.
*The wood chips seems to colonize most vigorously, but I am certain that the big chunks are nowhere near completely consumed.  Uncertain how this will affect the endeavor.
*Wood chips + straw did pretty well, but presented the most mold.
*Packing the inoculated substrate directly into the bins yielded far better results than leaving the substrate in the turkey roasting bags. Less competing mold, more complete colonization.  This is happy, because it means less plastic and more simplicity in the process.
*In the next round, I will try to be more selective with wood species, and I will attempt to use smaller size pieces, perhaps with sawdust mixed in.













 
Beau M. Davidson
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Found another instance of people using similar methodology for mycelium insulation.

https://www.mediamatic.net/en/page/83866/mycoinsulation-project#:~:text=The%20mycelium%20pieces%20should%20be,in%20the%20dehydrator%20or%20oven.

The similarities:  

*also using species ganoderma lucidum
*also using waste for substrate
*also growing in forms and air drying

The differences:

*looks like they have a lot of commercial equipment for inoculation and drying
*looks like they're buying a lot of starter materials from ecovative, etc.
*looks like they're being a lot more scientific about the whole thing.  Meaning, solid controls, single variables, more control than I could possibly have in my current context.

Cool nonetheless!!!
 
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Beau Davidson wrote:

Wendy Bays wrote:Have you tried adding strands of hemp plant for durability?



I haven't!  I haven't really messed around with hemp at all.  It's an interesting and meritorious plant with a rich history of varied use, but it invites a ton of scrutiny in my part of the world.  Especially considering there are so many other more . . . undervalued and overlooked plants with comparable qualities.

I would be interested to hear if others are incorporating hemp or any particular fibrous vegetation into their substrate.



Try nettle.  The fibers are tough and have a long history in textile use, comparable I believe to linen.  The plant is quick and easy to grow in a lot of climate zones.
 
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Beau Davidson wrote:...4) Potential insulation for rocket stove/rocket mass heater heat riser, as lab testing has shown fire-resistance of mycelium at over 1400*F.  Heat resistance is increased by the inclusion of silica in substrate, which becomes suspended in mycelial polymers.  Possibilities substrate ingredients include: rice hulls, common sand, horsetail.



It is true, rice hulls have a high mineral content and are very difficult to burn!
 
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Matthew Nistico wrote:

Beau Davidson wrote:

Wendy Bays wrote:Have you tried adding strands of hemp plant for durability?



I haven't!  I haven't really messed around with hemp at all.  It's an interesting and meritorious plant with a rich history of varied use, but it invites a ton of scrutiny in my part of the world.  Especially considering there are so many other more . . . undervalued and overlooked plants with comparable qualities.

I would be interested to hear if others are incorporating hemp or any particular fibrous vegetation into their substrate.



Try nettle.  The fibers are tough and have a long history in textile use, comparable I believe to linen.  The plant is quick and easy to grow in a lot of climate zones.




Yes, nettle!  All of my friends in Wichita are trying to eradicate it from their lawns - and I am trying to cultivate it here!  

What a cool idea to incorporate it into mycelium.  I will look into it.  

Reminds me of this: https://permies.com/t/50840/fiber-arts/Nettle-Long-harvesting-stinging-nettle

Thanks!
 
Matthew Nistico
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Beau Davidson wrote:Yes, nettle!  All of my friends in Wichita are trying to eradicate it from their lawns - and I am trying to cultivate it here!  

What a cool idea to incorporate it into mycelium.  I will look into it.  

Reminds me of this: https://permies.com/t/50840/fiber-arts/Nettle-Long-harvesting-stinging-nettle

Thanks!


It will be interesting to see how strong the fibers remain after you have intentionally rotted them, LOL!  Please do post back more results.
 
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It will be interesting to see how strong the fibers remain after you have intentionally rotted them, LOL!  Please do post back more results.

I second this, I'm following along and will build this out if it proves 'fruitful'!!
 
Eino Kenttä
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Was just thinking the same thing. The fibers are cellulose, so won't the fungus just eat them? Suppose it depends what fungus... Some (white rotters) might go mostly for the lignin at first, and according to Wikipedia, oyster is one of them (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wood-decay_fungus#White_rot) But hmm...
 
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I guess the proof will be in the pudding, as they say.  Add some fiber content and see how it influences structural rigidity and tensile strength, which in practice I imagine translates to "resistance to being torn."  Not sure how you would measure this, except by working at chunks with your hands and guestimating the material's toughness?

I think adding rice hulls to the substrate mix - even just for low-temp structural insulation - is an interesting and perhaps more feasible idea in order to enhance the fire retardancy value.  Of course, that is easy for me to say - I live in a state that grows rice!  It might represent a considerable expense when manufacturing these panels in Kansas, where the OP lives.
 
Beau M. Davidson
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Matthew Nistico wrote:I guess the proof will be in the pudding, as they say.  Add some fiber content and see how it influences structural rigidity and tensile strength, which in practice I imagine translates to "resistance to being torn."  Not sure how you would measure this, except by working at chunks with your hands and guestimating the material's toughness?

I think adding rice hulls to the substrate mix - even just for low-temp structural insulation - is an interesting and perhaps more feasible idea in order to enhance the fire retardancy value.  Of course, that is easy for me to say - I live in a state that grows rice!  It might represent a considerable expense when manufacturing these panels in Kansas, where the OP lives.



All of the fiberous structural components are certainly cause of pause - but I really can't say. Even if the mycelium does consume the cellulose,  the resulting continues bulk of mycelium be stronger as a result.  

Yeah, sourcing rice hulls - I may have to reach out to some friends in Arkansas who make the trip periodically.  

I am curious about embedding common sand into the substrate.  

Let me throw some other possibilities out there - things that I have (or can obtain) in abundance -

*Various grain byproducts - rye, wheat, corn, some buckwheat - straw, hulls, etc.
*Virtually unlimited coffee grounds
*Wood debris in abundance, ranging from dust to shavings to mulch . . . all the way up to limbs, trees, forests . . .
*Wood species - Massive amounts of Black Walnut (Juglans nigra), Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana), Hedge (Maclura pomifera), and Mulberry (Morus alba & rubra).  Also moderate volumes of various oak, maple, persimmon, pear, black locust, honey locust, our native cottonwood, ponderosa pine, various elms, hackberry, and probably 40 others.  My great grandpa planted a vast array of trees about 80 years ago, and registered us as a tree farm.  It's a unique place that can support a variety of trees not seen elsewhere in a single location. I am just scratching the surface with regard to deep knowledge of the latter varieties.  

If anything on this list looks particularly interesting to anyone regarding this project - throw me a suggestion!
 
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I do have to say, rot is not the same as mycelial consumption.  Rot and its bacterial processes should not be involved in mycelium innoculation, as far as I am aware.  
 
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Beau Davidson wrote:

Wendy Bays wrote:Have you considered growing easy assemble dome-home panels?



I had not considered that, specifically, as yet - but it's a great idea.  Could go with molds in the shape of Buckminster Fuller's specification, with some click-together functionality.  Then, after assembly could apply a rendered waterproof membrane to the exterior.  I would love to see this in action!

 
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https://www.habitusbuildingsystems.com/. Please look at this website from my friend/Director ‘Habitus Domes’.  I told her about the idea of growing dome home panels and she would like to explore the idea.
 
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Wendy Bays wrote:https://www.habitusbuildingsystems.com/. Please look at this website from my friend/Director ‘Habitus Domes’.  I told her about the idea of growing dome home panels and she would like to explore the idea.



We call them 'Grow Domes' and One dome will yield as much as a over 1100 acres per year, year round in any climate, without pesticides and large farm equipment.  So ALL can have fresh, Organic Rich Food, year round.
 
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We call them 'Grow Domes' and One dome will yield as much as a over 1100 acres per year, year round in any climate, without pesticides and large farm equipment.  So ALL can have fresh, Organic Rich Food, year round.  Wanting to explore growing the dome panels.  
Sorry but, haven’t figured out the path for submitting comments so, may have put them in the wrong places.  This needs to go to the mycelium panels chat.

My friend/Director ‘Antonia Lau re ‘Habitus’:  https://www.habitusbuildingsystems.com/
 
Eino Kenttä
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If you want fibrous reinforcement that isn't degraded by cellulose-consuming fungi, hair might be a feasible option. Wool was mentioned earlier. Another possibility (for longer, purely structural fibers) might be to reach out to a hair dresser and see if you might be able to tap into that waste stream.

Other random idea: Do you figure the panels could be made waterproof/water resistant by being soaked in something like linseed oil (or other drying oil)? To make a kind of "mycelinoleum"? Could be an option for below-grade insulation, as mentioned before, although the insulation value would probably be reduced due to the oil plugging the pores. For primarily outdoor applications (or if you don't mind the smell - I don't) you could mix the linseed oil with wood tar, to increase rot resistance and further waterproof the material. Should work ok, since this mixture (with the addition of turpentine) is traditional for treating wooden boats. Maybe this could even work as a roofing material in its own right? (Although you would probably need massive quantities of linseed oil and tar to make it waterproof enough for that...)
 
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Eino Kenttä wrote:If you want fibrous reinforcement that isn't degraded by cellulose-consuming fungi, hair might be a feasible option. Wool was mentioned earlier. Another possibility (for longer, purely structural fibers) might be to reach out to a hair dresser and see if you might be able to tap into that waste stream.

Other random idea: Do you figure the panels could be made waterproof/water resistant by being soaked in something like linseed oil (or other drying oil)? To make a kind of "mycelinoleum"? Could be an option for below-grade insulation, as mentioned before, although the insulation value would probably be reduced due to the oil plugging the pores. For primarily outdoor applications (or if you don't mind the smell - I don't) you could mix the linseed oil with wood tar, to increase rot resistance and further waterproof the material. Should work ok, since this mixture (with the addition of turpentine) is traditional for treating wooden boats. Maybe this could even work as a roofing material in its own right? (Although you would probably need massive quantities of linseed oil and tar to make it waterproof enough for that...)



Thanks for reiterating the possibility of natural animal fiber.  It is an interesting concept.  Hair!  That's a crazy thought.  I'd be reluctant to use salon waste due to fragrances and chemicals in hair products.  Instant migraine for me just walking in to a barbershop or salon.

I think for now I will not purse making it water resistant.  I am mostly treating it like I would treat standard above-grade insulation, which will be protected from moisture.  One of the things I like about mycelium is its biodegradability at end-of-life.  I consider it an advantage, rather than a liability.
 
Beau M. Davidson
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We have talked a lot about structural improvement - but at present that isn't one of my great needs.  Mycelium is already very structurally sound.  

If it is wall infill, or wall cladding, it needs no structural improvement.  

Furthermore, when clad between rigid materials, like structural insulated panels, the insualation itself is not the structural element, but the combination of the outer membranes adhered to the insulation.  In typical SIP, it is polystyren between OSB or metal.  In my version (and that of the evocative mushroom house) it is mycelium between site-milled wood.

I love all the ideas though.  They are spurring new thoughts in new directions, so thanks to all!!!
 
Wendy Bays
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Wendy Bays wrote:We call them 'Grow Domes' and One dome will yield as much as a over 1100 acres per year, year round in any climate, without pesticides and large farm equipment.  So ALL can have fresh, Organic Rich Food, year round.  Wanting to explore growing the dome panels.  
Sorry but, haven’t figured out the path for submitting comments so, may have put them in the wrong places.  This needs to go to the mycelium panels chat.

My friend/Director ‘Antonia Lau re ‘Habitus’:  https://www.habitusbuildingsystems.com/



Beau, if you don’t feel that dome home panels, as per the ‘Habitus’ application is up your ally at this time, would you be able to direct me to another mycelium grower who may have an interest in it?
 
Beau M. Davidson
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Wendy Bays wrote:

Wendy Bays wrote:We call them 'Grow Domes' and One dome will yield as much as a over 1100 acres per year, year round in any climate, without pesticides and large farm equipment.  So ALL can have fresh, Organic Rich Food, year round.  Wanting to explore growing the dome panels.  
Sorry but, haven’t figured out the path for submitting comments so, may have put them in the wrong places.  This needs to go to the mycelium panels chat.

My friend/Director ‘Antonia Lau re ‘Habitus’:  https://www.habitusbuildingsystems.com/



Beau, if you don’t feel that dome home panels, as per the ‘Habitus’ application is up your ally at this time, would you be able to direct me to another mycelium grower who may have an interest in it?



I'd be happy to talk with them - probably the best and most productive way would be to have them jump onto this thread, or start a new one on permies.  I did look at the website.  Looks neat.  Are they in development?

Regarding the possibility of me growing their dome panels - it wouldn't be possible within my current infrastructure.  Ecovative would be a good company that operates at a high volume.  Or there may be other regional growers.
 
Matthew Nistico
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I really like the idea - someone tossed this into the ring, above - of growing these mycelium panels in the form of structural blocks that could be cobbed together like brickwork and plastered over to form complete wall systems.  If arched into a dome, they could even form complete structures, but if left in rectilinear orientations and topped with a conventional roof they would still work well.

That sounds very practical, particularly the rectilinear option, and I think it has a lot of potential.  Building such a structure would conceptually be similar to load-bearing straw bale architecture, which is a well-established technique.  Except that I suspect mycelium blocks might have several advantages.  One that immediately spring to mind is eliminating the need to split bales, or sculpt them to fit into unique applications, like window reveals.  A structural mycelium block could be grown in a custom mold to create almost any desired shape!
 
Beau M. Davidson
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Matthew Nistico wrote:I really like the idea - someone tossed this into the ring, above - of growing these mycelium panels in the form of structural blocks that could be cobbed together like brickwork and plastered over to form complete wall systems.  If arched into a dome, they could even form complete structures, but if left in rectilinear orientations and topped with a conventional roof they would still work well.

That sounds very practical, particularly the rectilinear option, and I think it has a lot of potential.  Building such a structure would conceptually be similar to load-bearing straw bale architecture, which is a well-established technique.  Except that I suspect mycelium blocks might have several advantages.  One that immediately spring to mind is eliminating the need to split bales, or sculpt them to fit into unique applications, like window reveals.  A structural mycelium block could be grown in a custom mold to create almost any desired shape!



Yes!  I like the way you're thinking, Matthew.  
 
Our first order of business must be this tiny ad:
Our perennial nursery has sprouted!
https://permies.com/t/174246
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