How Can Mushrooms Mitigate Air Pollution?

Published on: 08 July 2022
by KnowESG

Futuristic fungi-filled wall tiles could absorb toxic hydrocarbon air pollution caused by vehicle emissions and the use of fossil fuels.

That's the goal Brunel Design student Thomas Sault is aiming for with these honeycomb tiles made of mycelium, the portion of mushrooms that you can't see since they grow underground.

Cancer-causing hydrocarbons in the air disrupt the skin's normal detoxification process, resulting in skin diseases such as acne, psoriasis, and even skin cancer.

Modular Myco-Hex tiles filled with an absorbent mixture of waste sawdust and fungus spores could be the solution. Fungi can convert up to 80% of the carbon they consume into food for growth. 

When the mycelium-fused fungal grows, it securely absorbs hydrocarbons, assisting in the creation of cleaner air in towns and cities.

Thomas said, "It opened my eyes to some of the amazing properties fungi have. I came across oyster mushrooms and how they can naturally clean up oil spills by breaking down hydrocarbons to use for energy.”

 Brunel Design School lecturer, Ayca Dundar, said: "Myco-Hex tiles are a great example of biomimicry. It is using nature to solve a global problem that is also fully sustainable and renewable.”

Myco-Hex tiles, which were recently unveiled as a prototype, employ tongue and groove to connect. They are inexpensive to manufacture, sound-proof, and fire-resistant, and can be mounted almost anywhere outdoors, such as billboard hoardings or school playgrounds. To keep the mycelium healthy, it could be fed food waste such as coffee grounds in addition to sawdust.

“For so many years, humans have worked against nature and have slowly destroyed it,” said Thomas. “Instead of working against nature, we need to look to nature and see that it contains the answers to our environmental issues.”

Source: Brunel University London

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