ENHANCING PROFITABILITY & SUSTAINABILITY UPLAND COTTON, COTTONSEED, & COTTON BYPROD THROUGH IMPRVMNTS IN HARVESTING, GINNING, & MECH PROCESS
Location: Cotton Production and Processing Research
Title: Optimization of biomass blends in the manufacture of molded packaging materials produced using fungal mycelium
Research conducted cooperatively with:
Submitted to: Bio Environmental Polymer Society
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: September 17, 2012
Publication Date: September 18, 2012
Citation: Holt, G.A., Mcintyre, G., Bayer, E. 2012. Optimization of biomass blends in the manufacture of molded packaging materials produced using fungal mycelium [abstract]. In: Proceedings of 20th Anniversary Celebration of the Bio Environmental Polymer Society, September 18-21, 2012, Denton, TX. Paper No. O-57.
Polystyrene is one of the most widely used plastics and is commonly produced in three forms: 1) Extruded polystyrene – disposable utensils, CD/DVD cases, yogurt containers, smoke alarm housing, etc.; 2) Expanded polystyrene foam – molded packaging materials and packaging "peanuts"; 3) Extruded polystyrene foam – insulation boards. Extruded polystyrene foam is commonly sold under the name of StyrofoamTM. Polystyrene packaging and insulation is a multibillion dollar a year industry. Since polystyrene is non-biodegradable, a biodegradable material that is eco-friendly was sought as a substitute for packaging and insulation board. The material, produced from a process developed by Ecovative Design, LLC, involved growing fungal species on biomass substrates to produce an eco-friendly packaging product (EcoCradleTM) and insulation panels (GreensulateTM). Previous research had shown desirable physical and mechanical properties from molded packaging materials produced with cotton gin byproducts as a substrate. The objective of this research was to evaluate and determine the optimal biomass blend(s) producing the best overall physical and mechanical properties for composites produced using Ecovative’s technology. Six biomass substrates were evaluated for optimal performance using twenty-one response variables. Evaluations were conducted on samples produced using a fungus selected from the Ganoderma tsugae group. Properties evaluated included: density, strength (compressive and flexural), dimensional stability, modulus of elasticity, energy absorption, thermal conductivity, and accelerated aging. Results revealed optimal blends involving two to four biomasses depending on end-user specifications and properties deemed most desirable.