Mycelium fungi growths
Bulletin

BIOHM Seeks to Turn Plastic Waste into Insulation Material with Mushrooms

BIOHM is a research and development led UK start-up that aims to revolutionize the construction industry with its bio-based materials. Among their products are insulation panels made from mycelium, the root formations of fungi. Recently, the company discovered that certain fungal species can consume plastic as a food source. This invention could bring about new construction materials that originate from plastic waste.

“Evolving from eating leaf matter and the odd bit of tree bark, to eating plastic might seem like a huge jump, but for certain fungi, it can actually happen very quickly. The inhabitants of the microbial world are far more genetically flexible than humans, able to evolve and adapt to their environment within a generation, constantly modifying and improving upon their genome to maximize their productivity,” says Samantha G.R. Jenkins, Lead Biotechnology Engineer.

BIOHM researchers are learning how to encourage the fungi to consume plastic waste at a greater rate. They aim to create an industrially efficient strain that can consume plastic waste at a speed that makes it a viable option for dealing with the global plastic waste problem.

With this technology, companies could begin to produce food from plastic and imagine new biomaterials, including building materials, sustainable fuel, packaging, furniture, and clothing. The applications for this kind of technology are boundless.

A microscopic image of fungi consuming plastic

A Crowdfunding Campaign and a New Facility

Despite being young, BIOHM is a start-up with big ambitions. The equity crowdfunding campaign they are now running will provide a further boost to their research and technologies. The company is also in the process of completing its first bio-manufacturing facility, in Watchet, Somerset.

The facility is a collaboration between BIOHM and Onion Collective, supported by Power to Change and the Waitrose & Partners Plan Plastic Prize. The facility will become an integral part of BIOHM’s research into plastic consuming fungi and once fully scaled, will use up to 150 tonnes of ‘waste’ and sequester 16 tonnes of carbon per month.

“This partnership aims to develop the technology and bring it to market in a way that is led by the local community, exemplifying a new way of doing business,” says Ehab Sayed, founder and director of innovation at BIOHM.

If this technology can be developed as BIOHM suggests, it could have a huge impact on how plastic waste is processed, not just in the UK, but globally. Their bio-manufacturing facility in Watchet will be used to grow this highly sustainable insulation material from mycelium fungus on an industrial scale, providing insulation for thousands of homes a year, whilst removing plastic waste from the environment. According to recent tests against industry standards, the company’s bio-based insulation is out-performing the majority of alternatives on the market.

Visit https://www.biohm.co.uk/ for more info.

Source: BIOHM Ltd., June 29, 2020

About the author

Aarni Heiskanen

Aarni Heiskanen, Construction Innovation Agent, is hailed as a Top 100 influencer in construction. Aarni has been a pioneer in computer-aided design, he has co-founded a business software company, and worked as a certified management consultant. He runs AE Partners, an innovation and strategy consultancy. Aarni holds a master's degree in architecture.

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