What is Mycelium?
“Mycelium is the vegetative part of fungi, which consists of a network of interconnected filamentous cells called hyphae. The mycelium of mushroom- forming basidiomycetes is highly attractive and embodies a great potential, because of its tendency of growing on a wide variety of substrates, therefore resulting into a range of diverse materials and applications, related to the architecture and the design fields. Moreover, this organic network of filamentous cells is characterised by peculiar properties, such as strength, elasticity, thickness, homogeneity and water repellency.”
What is currently be done with mycelium?
Currently mycelium is being used in the art and design world for various applications. The strong fibers of mycelium works wells as a natural alternative to wood, cork and plastics and can also be easily shaped into both structural materials such as insulation and decorative artifacts such as lampshades and homeware. It is also produced in a more energy efficient way than conventional manufacturing.
What we would like to explore?
The use of mycelium as an alternative building material is revolutionary and is proving that there are natural alternatives to our current ways of manufacturing, but within the discipline of mycoculture itself there has not been much experimentation and it seems that the majority are using the fibres in a composite of materials and the actual chemistry beyond the physiology is not being explored.
We would like to see how we can go beyond the current methods of growing and using mycelium cultures and with this explore new material solutions. We hope to achieve this through a series of experiments addressing these two parts of mycoculture:
- Growing Mycelium
- Fabricating with Mycelium
Current research with mycelium involves the growth of material in organic decaying substrates. We propose an alternative approach, we will be growing pure mycelium in a liquid culture using experimentally designed methods, based on research in the industrial production of mycelium for medicinal use.
After our tour to the Industry City Distillery we have been doing a lot of research into growth optimisation and found that the same alginate that is used to keep the yeast growing at optimal temperature and Ph level can be used as a substrate for the growth of mycelium in liquid culture. We will definitely be exploring this avenue when we get to the growing of larger masses of mycelium.
We will also be prototyping a DIY bioreactor to further optimize the growth of the material.
Fabricating with Mycelium
Fungi and electricity:
Lightning induces fruiting of mushrooms in nature
We would like to scale down this interaction between fungi and electricity by creating a modified petri dish experiment that will test the effect of electrical current on the growth of fungal cultures.
There is also currently some interest within the science world in the perceived conductivity of mycelium. As per our previous project we would like to continue this research with more scientific backing.
Fungi as fabric:
We are hoping to move away from the composite use of mycelium to explore the chemical makeup of the hyphae and see if there is a way in which we can use this fibre for fabric or as alternative to cotton or yarn.
Jonas Edvard Nielsen