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What is Mycelium?
To know what Mycelium is you will need to know what Hyphae is. Hyphae is a
branching filamentous structure of a fungus
in most fungi hyphae are the primary mode of vegetative growth, and form a network that together is called Mycelium. The Mycelium is the ever versatile and exceptionally smart fungi that forms a network through the forest floor that acts as a super highway for nutrients, as well as information that stretches for hundreds of yards in all directions. The visible indication of a Mycelium presence are mushrooms, which are the "fruits" of the Mycelium fungi.
Here you can see the branching ever complex network of Mycelium fungi. Mycelium forms a network through the forest floor that processes changes to the surface such as a foot print or a branch falling hundreds of yards away.
As you can see here this is a complete diagram of the mushroom plant, but if you look at the bottom you can see that the Mycelium section is made up of individual strands of Hyphae
Properties of Mycelium
Mycelia acctually breaks down the wast products of forests such as; nitrogen, carbon, plant, and animal debris, and converts it into rich nutrients for the soil. Paul Stements (From the second Ted talk, who has done extensive amounts of research on Mycelium.) discovered that Mycelia can break down pesticides, dioxin,chlorine,and hydro carbons which form the majority of heavy metal pollutants from industrial production. It does this by acting like a filter and absorbing the harmful compounds and the water that surrounds it. Then the mushroom produces enzymes that break down these harmful chemicals and release nutrients that enrich the soil and promote plant life. Now for my project I need a solid form of Mycelium which is very different from the naturally occurring network of strands. In order to get that solid Styrofoam type of Mycelium I will have to create a ridged mold with the Mycelium spores that will constrict the growth into the shape of the mold and force it to compress itself within the confines of that mold. From there I will be able to take the Mycelium out of the mold to sand and shape it into small 2 foot prototype surfboards. After the shape is achieved then a fiberglass coating on the outside bound with an eco-friendly resin will give the Mycelium board its final rigidity.
So what? What does this mean?
Given the fact that Mycelium is not only a rapidly growing low maintenance medium, but is also so versatile makes it the leading "green" product. Paul Stamets is the brain that has expanded the potential of the ordinary mushroom. He has lead several studies that showed that Mycelium can filter out deadly toxins from soils, improve the nutrients in those toxic soils, and prevent erosion. He took this further and discovered that you can also use Mycelium to produce bio-fuels cheaply, on a large scale, and quickly; he then developed a string of mushroom fungi that would not release spores and used it to cure his house of ants. The Mushroom Wave did not stop there! Eben Bayer then approached Mycelium with a marketable, and structural product idea. Instead of letting the Mycelium grow and do its natural wonders in the soil, Eben developed a system to isolate the Mycelium itself into a rigid Styrofoam substitute. This new Product is now being used by Eben's team at ecovative designs to make house insulation, toys, packing corners, and as a variety of coolers. (To know more about Mycelium and its applications visit my wikki link :
Mycelium, the Big Picture
This is about Eben Bayer and Ecovative designs. We will be trying to recreate this in our lab.
This video is about all of the applications of Mycelium and how it will in fact save the world.
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