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Insulation Made from Mushrooms.



Two years ago, Eben Bayer was given a college assignment to create a sustainable insulation. Since he grew up on a mushroom farm in Vermont, he immediately gravitating to growing mushrooms as eco-friendly insulation. He and colleague Gavin McIntyre used a "fire-retardant board made of water, flour, oyster mushroom spores and perlite, a mineral blend found in potting soil" to create their now patented "Greensulate" technology.

The former Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute graduates expect the product to be ready for development in about a year. Link [abc news]

Every time someone wants to make an organic glue, insulation, or other building material, I recall how my grandma would tell me about back when they used flour and water for wallpaper paste, and then had roaches and mice for decades afterwards.
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Have you ever bought slightly old mushrooms at the store, and brought them home in a paper bag, then opened the bag and took a good smell?

Now imagine the funk in your walls. MMmm dirty socks.
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People that go out of their way to may something "organic" or "all-natural" piss me off. Guess what? Why not just use a paper based insulation! Its biodegradable and then the insides of your walls won't look like smurf village. Also, what about people with spore allergies? Hello!? That would be like living in a hell-box. Good job tree huggers, good job.
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So it was an assignment that got out of hand...it's not like he's some blood-throwing PETA member, good4you. He's just developing something he already had to lay out a plan for.

Sure it'll stink like hell, not be cost-effective, and have little point to it, but hey...his money. Maybe growing up on a mushroom farm makes him like having a house smell like old feet.
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Hey, it's nice to see Rensselaer Polytechnic get some good press -- I'm an alumnus as well.

That said, the rose-colored article doesn't address some serious expected "issues". Hopefully they don't overlook them as well:
1. As others have noted, what happens when this stuff gets wet or even a little moist from air exfiltration? There's no built in vapor barrier, so any moist air than makes it through the interior walls is going to condense on the insulation in the wall cavity. I suspect bad news when that happens. Fiberglass can handle that without any problem.
2. Another problem will be that it seems to take an enormous amount of time to make the insulation board (they said 1 - 2 weeks to grow the fungus that makes a 1" thick board). This will mean producing the stuff in any volume will require an enormous controlled environment facility of "inventory in progress". That is a big problem -- they will need to speed it up. This same problem plagued the early auto industry -- it took weeks for paint to dry on the finished cars -- hence the birth of lacquer. They will need a way to spit out many board a minute somehow.

3. Costs? Fiberglas is really cheap and the typical isocyanurate board insulation (which is the product they should really be going up against but their R values are currently too low) is more expesnive, but the R-values and ability to block airflow are a lot better.

I wish them well. Hopefully all the stuff overlooked in the article is due to faulty reporting and not faulty engineering on their part.

Straight talk from Sid.
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Did anyone actually read the story? The say they are still testing it, but it doesn't release spores to trigger allergies, and they are continuing testing to see how it degrades from moisture and such. I could care less if it is eco-friendly. I was more concerned with the low cost it has.

So next time people lets actually READ what it is about, instead of just flying off the handle into tirades.
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Yeah, I read the story. It said:
"It's then dried to prevent fungal growth, making it unlikely to trigger mold and fungus allergies,"

Well, that is super-swell when it is dry, but how about when it remoistens while inside that nice dark environment? It WILL remoisten in use because in cold climates, the house's warm interior air holds a lot more moisture than the cold outside air. When it exfiltrates (some exfiltration is inevitable no matter how tight you build), the moisture condenses on wall cavity insulation. Does the nice dry petri dish spring to life?

Also, while it was revealed it takes a week or two to grow to the proper thickness, how long does it take to dry thereafter? Or how much energy must be expended to dry it? More process time to add on....

Kudos for them trying, but for as long as the article was, it left a lot of questions unasked and showed everything looking really rosy. Typical greenie writing, unfortunately. I might be wrong, but I am betting their biggest challenge will be competing on throughput. Their manufacturing process relies on the growth rate of fungus and that will be difficult to scale up. They may find some specialized use for it, but I think it will be pretty hard to compete against synthetic insulations. These can be engineered for cost AND performance. "Sustainability" and "recycbility" are not really considered, and thus don't hamper the design. Since houses are (usually) built to last many decades, how important are these anyhow? Hey, who knows, maybe they'll find some niche use among the greenies... There are people who spend extra $ buying the Toyota Prius, so ANYTHING is possible! :-)
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Nice long post you jack ass.

Just a bunch of critics who dont know their ass from thier elbow. Thanks to all of you who made comments on the smell, feet??? really?? Get real!! Oh Im sorry everything doesnt smell like roses. Oh thats right when you take a crap it probably does smell like roses and peaches.

Snooty people...shame on you. That guy was just doing a project and probably was pretty happy with his success. ASSHOLES!!
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