Greensulate is the former name for a renewable and biodegradable material that can be used for thermal insulation, fire insulation and also as a substitute for styrofoam and other plastics used in packaging and other applications.
Greensulate is made of common and generally cheap agricultural by-products of rice, buckwheat and cottonseed. The mix is used as a base for the growth of the oyster mushroom, Pleurotus ostreatus. Fungal cells are added to the mixture after the addition of hydrogen peroxide to inhibit the growth of undesired fungi or plants. The whole is put into the desired molds then put in a dark environment, permitting growth of a fungal mycelial network to bind the mixture. It is then dried to prevent further fungal growth, thus preventing moss or fungus allergy due to exposure to the product.
The creators of Greensulate, Eben Bayer and Gavin McIntyre, met at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute as mechanical engineers. They started by testing different cultures of mushrooms and studying their proprieties as insulators. They found that by manipulating the growth environment, they could influence the properties of the material, such as strength, flexibility and temperature tolerance.
In 2007 they received a $16,000 dollar funding from the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance (NCIIA); by that time, the students were corporate under the name of "Ecovative Design". A year later, many other members joined their team and they won a $700,000 prize at the PICNIC green challenge at Amsterdam. As of May 2009, the first trial of Greensulate is being conducted at a Vermont school gym. Following public exposure, Ecovative stopped using the Greensulate name, while simultaneously pivoting its technology to protective packaging. As of 2013, Ecovative began announcing plans to reconsider the building construction industry but has yet to release any commercial products.
- Jeremy Hsu (May 26, 2009). "Invention Awards: Eco-Friendly Insulation Made From Mushrooms". Retrieved 2009-11-28.
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- Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, “Environmentally Friendly Organic Insulation Uses Mushroom Spores”, 2007, May 7, “”, Retrieved November 28, 2009
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