Date of Award
Environmental Resources Engineering
textile-like products, Saprolegnia ferax
The global textile industry prides itself on energy and resource efficiency, although arguably has room to improve. One factor enabling this efficiency is the scale of production, often making it more energy efficient than alternative fiber sources. One potential alternative fiber source which has the potential to be emergy evaluation and EROEI (energy returned on energy invested) competitive is fungal mycelium. This could be possible because rather than the widespread support, harvesting, transport, and physical processing associated with lignocellulosic fibers, culturing and processing could all occur on site at a textile mill. Fungi could be used to consume what might otherwise be waste nutrients (the byproduct of an industrial process).
This study sought to compare the properties of mycelial sheets to products of both the paperboard and office paper classes of textiles in terms of mechanical properties and impact of the manufacturing process. Lab scale processes for production of mycelium isolates derived from filamentous fungi were explored. Both liquid culture methods (malt extract broth (MEB) and Sabouraud dextrose broth (SDB)) and solid media culture (malt extract agar (MEA) and lactose agar media (Desobry and Hardy 1997)) were tested. Fungal species included Pleurotus pulmonarius (tested in liquid culture), Pleurotus osreatus, and Penicillium camemberti. Had culturing and refining processes proved successful (mycelial sheets qualitatively resembling textile classes of interest, when desiccated), a number of physical properties of fungi were to be tested using standardized paper testing equipment owned by SUNY-ESF’s Department of Paper and Bioprocess Engineering in Walters Hall. Because none of the culturing or refining procedures following tested culturing methods proved successful, no lab testing of physical characteristics was carried out. In its absence, I used a modeling approach to analyze the theoretical strength of mycelial sheets. Model inputs were based on published values.
For future studies, culturing Pleurotus sp. in liquid culture will likely not yield sheets resembling textiles, whereas Penicillium sp. with surficial solid media methods seem to have potential (other research teams successfully produced products described as “pliable and elastic in tensile strain” (Van-Horn and Shema 1954)). When using liquid culture, if no structure (such as a screen) is present (or if the liquid culture vessel is not filled to brim with media) to prevent mycelium from floating at media-air interface, vegetative mycelium will rapidly be out-grown by reproductive aerial mycelium. When culturing using liquid media methods, it is recommended to use an apparatus enabling tight control on environmental variables and to make use of a shaker table. When processing sheets, steam sterilization followed by lyophilization has proved successful in past studies (Van-Horn and Shema 1954). Because of such existing precedents, there remains potential for a mycelium-based fiber market.
Mazur, Ross, "Mechanical Properties of Sheets Comprised of Mycelium: A Paper Engineering Perspective" (2015). Honors Theses. 68.