Four New Fungal Technologies Are Breaking the Mold
Ever hear of mold technology? Who would have thought we would be using mushrooms to power gadgets? Is there anything mycelium can’t be used for? Based on recent trends and discoveries, it appears that we’ve only begun to scratch the surface of practical applications for our amazing fungal friends. From healthy, nutritious imitation meat to powering tech wearables that track heart rate and steps, a brave new mycelial world is beginning to take shape. Here’s what’s going on in the world of mycelium manufacturing today, as well as a glimpse of what the future may hold.
Fungi-based leather is already becoming the next big thing in fashion. 2020 saw the launch of the Bolt Bag, a designer bag made entirely from mycelium-based leather, and now names such as Stella McCartney and Lululemon are getting in on the trend. Because mycelium is much easier to produce, more sustainable, and as a new study shows, probably just as durable as leather made from animal hides, we could see a fungal revolution in leather goods.
Chances are you’ve been ordering online a lot over the last year. While safety concerns during the pandemic have spiked online shopping, the world still has an overpackaging problem. Plastics have a tendency to end up in the ocean (even in landfills they can take aeons to break down), but even more sustainable packaging products are getting harder to recycle. Mycelium may hold the solution. A New York-based biotech company called Ecovative is creating molds from mycelium that are compostable and break down naturally over time. The molds can provide a natural alternative to styrofoam packaging, among other applications. The company has already secured major contracts with the likes of 3M and the Department of Defense.
On the Plate
It’s no secret that mushrooms are a tasty, nutritious addition to your diet, but the potential for mushroom-based meat substitutes continues to grow. While chefs have been using portobello mushrooms as steak and burger alternatives for years, a new company is working to create imitation meat with the same texture, flavor, and nutrients as authentic meat, from fungus. Colorado-based startup Meati has raised millions on its quest to create a new meat alternative, and it could be coming to your plate soon.
The Future of Tech
If you’re wearing a device that monitors your heart rate and daily step count, there’s a chance that the technology used to power it could be replaced by mycelium technology in the coming years. A new study proof-of-concept study showed mycelium were capable of detecting and quantifying external stimuli, including the types of biological data that tech wearables currently monitor to track health data. Soon you may be trading out your FitBit or Apple Watch for something made from mycelium!
See link: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/16/science/fungus-leather.html?smid=em-share
What kid of mold technology would you like to see next?