Engineering graduates Eben Bayer and Gavin McIntyre from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have developed a new environmentally friendly organic insulation called Greensulate.
Created from waste agricultural materials, water, and mushrooms, the patent-pending insulation could replace conventional foam insulations, which are expensive to produce and harmful to the environment.
The organic insulation is created by pouring a mixture of insulating particles, hydrogen peroxide, starch, and water into a panel enclosure. The mixture is then introduced to mushroom cells that digest the starch and produce a tightly meshed network of insulating particles and mycelium.
The end result is an organic composite board that has a competitive R-3 value – a measurement of resistance to heat flow which is comparable to current synthetic and organic insulations on the market.
Greensulate was tested at the NIST for its combustibility using a thermogravimetric analysis. Greensulate exhibited ideal characteristics in comparison to polystyrene, since it maintained its structural integrity up to 800oC and lost only eight per cent of its mass.
Bayer and McIntyre have formed a company, Ecovative Design, and are working to produce larger samples of the insulation using different substrates, insulating particles, and growth conditions.