Realistic Mycelium

Biodesign Blog.

As it is common for most similar concepts our project went thought several iteration, before eventual form started to crystallize. Our initial concept was very wide; however, we choose to focus on one aspect of it. Nowadays mycelium is considered a very promising material, however it is used mainly as artists tool, not for everyday use. We choose to focus on improving mycelium qualities, bringing it closer to the public.

One of the narrow points with using mycelium is the necessity of the mounds.  We call mycelium a novel biomaterial; still production method is no different from making clay bricks. To make a mycelium block one has to construct mold first, then structure has to be fired in the oven to make in hard. While mycelium itself is carbon neutral mold material is usually 3D printed plastic, so whole production process is not exactly up to eco-standards.

 
To incorporate these particles inside the mycelium we propose growing it on special substrate comprising spent coffee powder, crushed oats for additional nutrition and metal particles. To assess the amount of particles, which could provide efficient heating, but would not hamper, mycelium growth, we plan to experiment with at least 3 different concentrations and two sizes of metal particles. We would also include control samples, so we could see how presence of metal particles affects mycelium growth.  

We propose to use metal particles incorporated inside mycelium to control its growth via magnetic field application and fire it remotely using induction current. Induction heating is used in some areas like semiconductor production, where sterile conditions are paramount, and is more efficient compared to using external heating source.

Moreover, to explore how we could further affect mycelium growth with various biogenic and non-biogenic additives, we propose to grow mycelium with cyanobacteria to assess how these organisms affect each other. There some scientific evidence that they might both destroy each other, or coexist exchanging metabolites. This might be one of the ways to make mycelium more durable.

As we have a separation of roles in our team, and I was tasked with creating a technical concepts of controlling mycelia growth, more concepts describing use of the material would come from designers division of the team. I do obviously see how self-preparing mycelium could be efficiently used as artistic tool and in more earthly uses, for example, growing this material in structural cracks and fixing it by application of magnetic field.

 

 

References:

https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2016/07/mushroom-surprising-uses-building-material-medicines-fungi/

https://www.princeton.edu/ssp/joseph-henry-project/eddy-currents/

Garcí, J. Non-Destructive Techniques Based on Eddy Current Testing. 2525–2565 (2011). doi:10.3390/s110302525