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Manufacturing of Mycology Composites

SONIA TRAVAGLINI, CKH DHARAN and PHILIP ROSS

Abstract


Composite materials grown from fungi, known as mycology materials, provide a novel option for a natural biocomposite material – the entirely natural composition allows for their disposal through composting, and provides the benefit of reduced impact from their manufacture due to being grown from agricultural or forestry wastes. As more uses are identified for mycology materials and the number of applications increases, there is a greater need for information on the material’s behavior during fabrication and manufacture. The purpose of this research is to determine the response of mycology materials to commonly used manufacturing methods, including cutting processes. Determining the suitability and resulting finish achieved from traditional manufacturing processes for mycology materials is a new area of research, useful to both commercial and artisan users; the results of which can be used to help inform the development of applications that utilize the biocomposite material. Mycology materials are grown from carbon containing feedstocks, such as sawdust, by digesting the feedstock’s ligneous material to form the structure of the mycology material. The mycology material is made from the vegetative part of the selected fungi species that grow a network of individual strands of mycelium, called hyphae, to form a cellular material. Mycology materials form a biocomposite comprised of the mycelium and the original feedstock, in this case wooden agricultural waste, with the mycelium and feedstock analogous to the matrix and reinforcing fiber of a typical synthetic composite. Due to being a natural material, fabrication and manufacturing includes the growth and processing of the fungi species that form the material, and the following manufacturing methods used to shape the material. The growth and processing of mycology materials includes the use of molds for near net-shape forming, and the subsequent denaturing of the growing material into an inert material.

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