A continuous sheet of mushroom leather
Researchers at the Finnish VTT Technical Research Centre managed to develop technology that enables the continuous manufacturing of mycelium leather sheets by the meter to make the material better applicable to industrial roll-to-roll production.
Mycelium is a bio-based material made of the root system of mushrooms. One of its many uses includes turning it into a leather-like vegan and plastic free material. However, until now, increasing the production volume was challenging because mycelium cultivation takes place in a 2D sheet form of limited size.
The new patent-pending technology is based on growing mycelium in common bioreactors. The liquid fermentation in bioreactors is easily scalable to commercial scales and the technology is already widely used in other fields, like the food and pharma industry.
The film-making process by VTT enables continuous mycelium leather sheets, reducing production price and offcuts, and enabling consistent quality.
At the moment, the VTT team is exploring applications in the accessory, footwear, and garment segments. The researchers are now turning to improve tear strength and abrasion resistance by bio-based approaches.