Are mushrooms the future of sustainable materials?

In an innovative design project, six new stylish benches have been installed outside the UBC Bookstore.

Joseph Dahmen and partner Amber Frid-Jimenez along with UBC staff and students, constructed the benches by allowing the mycelium -- in this case, oyster mushroom spores -- to grow in alder sawdust. Then, the mixture was packed into moulds and left for five days.

“The bench is actually alive,”  says Joe Dahmen.  “At some point, it’s possible that they’ll produce a whole lot of edible oyster mushroom fruit – like the [mushrooms] you can buy in the supermarket.”

Mycelium biocomposite has similar attributes to polystyrene, a common material used in packaging and building insulation. Unlike, polystyrene, the mycelium can become infected with mold and bacteria if they are too thick.  By growing the biocomposites in honeycomb shaped molds, Dahmen created structures that are relatively thin, yet mechanically strong.


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