Compostability/Biodegradability of mycelium composite samples

Hello I am Li Li, a master student at the university of Brussels. Exploring the end of life of mycelium composites, is the topic that I will be researching for my master thesis. Ideally, this master thesis subject would include an analysis of all possible waste streams of mycelium composites. Due to a lack af data, the end of life phase will be conceptual. One aspect that I will research (hands-on) is the biodegradability of the material.

This thesis concerns various questions that I would like to answer:
1/ Are mycelium composites degradable? If so, how long (first estimation) does it take for the sample to degrade completely?
2/ How do mycelium composites degrade? From the outside to the inside or is a interal reaction triggered?
3/ What other waste methods are possible to process these materials?

Hoping that I will be able to achieve this, let’s start this journey!

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Welcome Li

  1. What type of composites are you talking about?? Because that is going to be a major paremeter for your work? are we talking plastic reinforced? or lime?
    Based on that, you are going to have to choose a standard for biodegradation that applies?https://www.biobasedeconomy.eu/app/uploads/sites/2/2017/03/Current-relevant-biodegradation-and-ecotoxicity-standards-chapter-5-10.pdf here you have an idea of the list you are dealing with, but most of these can be done under accelerated conditions, so you should be able to get some real data about end of life.
  2. that is going to be an interesting one, sine the community isn’t fully in agreement about dormancy vs dead when it comes to viable mycelium materials, so make sure that keep that into account.

Insights from a dormant mycelium wont apply to a fully dead one.

  1. Fire, the answer will always be fire, it is significantly better than burning plastics and other oil based things, put pretty sure you could remake them into half decent pellets if need be.

Good Luck

Dear Gammarra,

  1. The composites that will be degraded are created by Elise Van den Elsacker. Abstractly, (as I have not produced these samples myself) the fungal strain Trametes Versicolor is used with hemp and 5-10% orange peels and the samples are not pressed.
    I have read the document you sent. Thank you! These standards are very elaborate, and I would love to test them accurately. Unfortunately, I do not have the means to do so (CO2 or O2 evolution). Therefore, I will apply a low-tech method: soil burial test. I have read various papers that apply soil burial tests. Based on these, I will apply something similar and I will post it once I have all my ingredients :slight_smile:

  2. I think so too! And good to know, I didn’t realise this parameter.

  3. I was thinking the same, maybe it could be possible to shred existing non-used mycelium matter and reuse it a s food for the fungal strain. Just a hypothesis though.

Thank you for the fast response and insights!
Cheers,
Li Li

For 3, there’s the idea from Paul Stamets of successive decomposers, as described in his book Growing Gourmet and Medicinal Mushrooms, chapter 22. E.g. shiitake blocks->resterilize+add some gypsum and water->oyster mushrooms->resterilize+bit of water->shaggy mane.

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Ok! Thank you! I will look into it :slight_smile: