Mycelium (root structure of fungi)
- story by MaterialDistrict
Biohm works with over 300 different strains of mycelium to create sustainable alternatives to some of the construction industry’s most damaging materials. Biohm harnesses the power of mycelium – the vegetative filament root structure of mushrooms – to produce materials by growing it through organic and synthetic substrates such as the by-products and waste from other industries.
Initial testing indicates that mycelium insulation has good thermal conductivity with an indicative range of 0.03 – 0.06 W/m.K.
Mycelium does not only performs as well as traditional construction materials in thermal and acoustic insulation but, as a natural material, it is also safer and healthier. Mycelium does not contain the synthetic, resin-based materials that can cause harmful toxic smoke and the quick spread of flames during a fire.
In keeping with their circular principles, Biohm identifies commercial and agricultural by-products that would otherwise go to landfill and utilises them as both a valuable input for their manufacturing process and as a second revenue stream through ‘waste’ management contracts. The entire manufacturing process only has a positive impact on the environment, meaning it is completely regenerative. Biohm’s manufacturing process is estimated to be carbon-negative, sequestering at least 16 tonnes of carbon per month.
Biohm believes that materials should be made to last as long as their intended use and that sustainable and circular end-of-life considerations should be embedded into the product itself. Independent insitu testing of mycelium has demonstrated that they are at least as durable as conventional materials and retain their performance over their life. The material can then be fed back into the manufacturing process or otherwise cold composted.
Health & Well-being
As we spend around 90% of our time within buildings, creating a healthy environment is critical to our physical well-being. Biohm’s insulation is breathable, wicks moisture and contains negligible amounts of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC), achieving an A+ rating when tested by BRE in accordance with BS EN ISO 16000-10:2006. It allows air to pass through it naturally whilst also blocking particulates, reducing damp and improving indoor air quality.
Biohm’s mycelium is manufactured in accordance with usual industry standard dimensions (1200×2400) and can be easily installed in projects without need for further training or additional safety equipment. Custom dimensions can also be achieved to meet the needs of the project. Zoe Laughlin, Founder of the Institute of Making and Professor at UCL, setting fire to our mycelium at over 1000oC whilst an ice cream bar sits on the other side of the fire icecold, completely intact and still crispy. The mycelium almost forms a complete heat and fire barrier and self-extinguishes once the flame is removed! Biohm was featured in the BBC4 Documentary ‘The Secret Story of Stuff: Materials of a Modern Age’.
Mycelium provides excellent acoustic insulation and tests show an acoustic absorption of at least 75% at 1000Hz (the typical frequency of road traffic noise), opening the market for mycelium as an architectural acoustic panel. By comparison, mineral wool is only able to achieve 40% absorption.