Can Mushrooms Make Eco-friendly Bricks? | Community Idea Stations


Can Mushrooms Make Eco-friendly Bricks?

When covering science stories we try our hardest to find good material. Well, sometimes we end up finding that great material…and sometimes it happens to be eco-friendly, reduces waste, and enhances life! For this week's article let's check out some big stuff that's happening in the world of new eco-friendly materials made from fungus! Can mushrooms make eco-friendly bricks? Listen to this Question Your World radio report produced by the Science Museum of Virginia to find out.

As the global population continues to grow, housing will continue to be an issue. Currently the construction of a dwelling unit takes a lot of time and energy. The heat, waste, and CO2 output has many negative impacts on the surrounding areas and even the populations of a region. Luckily a team of materials scientists in Australia just announced an amazing new discovery that could change the way we live, a new type of brick!

These newly announced bricks are made from fungus, rice hulls (the coating around the rice), and small shards of glass waste. Making these bricks takes very little energy and is a zero-carbon-process. Some pretty great news for our ever warming planet. Rice is one of the most commonly grown foods on Earth. Almost 480 million metric tonnes of rice are consumed every year by humans. Of which about 20% of that yield is rice hulls, an ingredient vital for these eco-friendly bricks. Scientists looked at the nearly 96 million tonnes of rice hulls harvested every year and the 600,000 metric tonnes of glass wasted every year in Australia alone.  They then added some funguses like mushrooms and the notion of the new bricks started to really grow.

By using ingredients that would normally end up in landfills, these bricks help reduce waste while also lowering the carbon dioxide emissions of a normal building construction. Not only are these new bricks more eco-friendly they also serve a great purpose for their structures and the residents within. For starters the ingredients used to make these bricks burn much slower, with less heat, and release much less smoke or CO2 than other synthetic options. And by reducing the amount of smoke released during a fire, the new bricks allow for more time to help people escape fires, potentially saving lives. Finally, the silica in the rice and glass make these bricks very unpleasant to termites!

Pretty cool stuff, right? An anti-termite, eco-friendly fungal bricks, and probably the coolest thing to happen to Mushrooms since the Phish reunion tour!