Mycelium Co2 reduction & Biodiversity

Hi, we are three master students in design and just started a new project where mycelium is the main subject in our research.

We have formulated the following design question: "How to design an application in which the mycelium contributes to the reduction of CO2 and the increase of biodiversity in the built environment in public space?"

To this end, we formulated these preliminary research questions:

  • What options are there for growing mycelium vertically?
  • Does it need structural support?
  • What options are there for designing with living mycelium?
  • Can we grow plants on living or dried mycelium?
  • How exactly does the CO2 storage in mycelium work?

We are looking for experts, studies, examples, cooperation, etc. Thank you in advance for your input.

greetings, Myrthe, Krista & Bartel

Creating those mycelium pillows of fluff is where it’s at
You can make foam bacon and leather

I’m not sure, but I think the big company that makes mycelium packaging has a patent covering guiding the direction of growth of mycelium.

Living mycelium is tricky, because there’s always the risk it gets taken over by mushroom parasites, or just bread molds. Most mycelium that’s being used structurally (as construction material, packaging, insulation, etc) has been dried first. I’d imagine there are fungus species that are much more resistant to being overtaken, for example conks. I think they’re also a lot slower growing?

In the greenhouse where I work we experimented with bio-degradable mycelium based pots to grow plants in. The problem for us was that they bio-degraded too quickly in our humid and warm environment! It certainly has its applications, but not for the stage where we operate :slight_smile:

CO2 reduction through fungi is the trickiest part here I think. Stamets talks about it, but I’m not sure he’s right about it. Certainly, fungi store carbon through their structures (in chitin I imagine), but they get that carbon from degrading other carbon sources, and active mushrooms breathe CO2 like we do and plants do.
Potentially their carbon is from sources like bacteria, nematodes and other fungi, converting it to a longer lived storage maybe.

If there’s any big effect it would have to be (I think,) found in their contribution to soil building and fertilising the true warehousers of carbon: trees.


Hi Bartel and team,

Great research topic! Here are some initial answers to your questions, hopefully leads you in a good direction. Please get in touch to discuss further. I am currently working in a R&D biomanufacturing company in Sydney, Australia - We are working through some similar questions, focusing on biomimetic and biophilic design, and circular economy strategies.

  • What options are there for growing mycelium vertically?

Some mycelia is aerial which means it grows vertically out of the petri dish. Some examples can be found in the Pleurotus species. This can be utilized to grow ‘pure mycelium’.

  • Does it need structural support?

From my experience you would not want to use mycelium as structural support because of its natural degradation. Though with the correct environment it can be ‘protected’ or stored for longer periods of time maintaining the structural integrity it has. A good way to discover which mycelium would be best used for this is to view the fruiting mushroom - IE a harder fruit body would indicate the mycelium would act in a similar way.

  • What options are there for designing with living mycelium?

Applications are various.

  • Can we grow plants on living or dried mycelium?

Mycelium naturally will break down adding nutrients to soils. Regards to growing plants on living or dried mycelium, you may be referring to a planter (a container for plants) made from mycelium.

  • How exactly does the CO2 storage in mycelium work?

I agree with the above comment from Egregius.
Please note: Timber stores carbon naturally. When we use a sawdust substrate, we are storing the carbon in the biomaterial. This may be a way of storing carbon in mycelium.


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