A Car Made Of Mushroom?
Two young men are about to change the world—they are out to give us cars that we shall be able to compost, just as you see in the ad that Toyota shows for their hybrid models—this is the dream come true for the green enthusiasts! And to make it sweeter, this is a home grown technology, developed by Ecovative Design, based in—interestingly—Green Island, New York.
Working together with the Detroit based Ford Motor Company Ecovative would test their fungus-based foam for constructing automotive body parts such as bumpers, side doors and dashboards; all completely biodegradable. The Chief scientist and co-founder of Ecovative, Gavin McIntyre, who is only 25, actually said, “You would be able to compost your car.”
The concept is simple, Ecovative uses a mushroom called mycelium that has very strong root systems to bind agricultural by-products, such as corn and oat husks, to produce a material that can compete with polystyrene and Styrofoam based materials in strength and durability. The organic process involves mixing husks and the mycelium in trays, then keeping it moist in a dark warehouse for five days for the mushrooms to grow their roots. The roots bind the husks tight, and that tightness gives it the strength. Then the organic material is cooked and dried, which gives it a definitive shape and durability, and makes the material fire and waterproof. The beauty of the material is—being organic—it decomposes in a month when buried in soil.
The idea grew from a project in 2006 that Gavin McIntyre and his roommate Eben Bayer were entrusted to at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy—create a glue from natural substances. Bayer remembered from his growing days on a family farm in Vermont that mushrooms had a very good network of root system, and that gave the duo the idea to conduct further research which culminated into developing a biodegradable product. This earned them recognition from the World Economic Forum in 2011.Continued on the next page