Skip to main content
ARS Home » Plains Area » Lubbock, Texas » Cropping Systems Research Laboratory » Cotton Production and Processing Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #309411

Title: Mycelium reinforced agricultural fiber bio-composites: Summary of research

item Holt, Gregory
item BAJWA, S - North Dakota State University
item ZIEGLER, A - University Of Arkansas
item Pelletier, Mathew
item Wanjura, John
item MCINTYRE, G - Ecovative Design, Llc

Submitted to: Association for the Advancement of Industrial Crops Conference
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/31/2014
Publication Date: 9/14/2014
Citation: Holt, G.A., Bajwa, S., Ziegler, A., Pelletier, M.G., Wanjura, J.D., Mcintyre, G. 2014. Mycelium reinforced agricultural fiber bio-composites: Summary of research. Association for the Advancement of Industrial Crops Conference. Printed Booklet.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Industry and the public sector have a growing interest in utilizing natural fibers, such as agricultural substrates, in the manufacture of components and products currently manufactured from fossil fuels. A patented process, developed by Ecovative Design, LLC (Ecovative), for growing fungal species on agricultural substrates to produce an eco-friendly packaging material has been researched extensively over the past few years. Ongoing and completed studies have focused on optimization of the interaction between the mycelim and various types of natural fibers as to their composite performance when utilized for acoustic absorbers, physical and mechanical properties for structural board and packaging materials, biomedical applications, one-use cushions for deployment of tsunami-warning buoys, and termite resistance for use in permanent insulation boards destined for construction markets. The objective of this report is to present a summary of completed and ongoing studies that are evaluating products produced from the Ecovative process. The initial research evaluating physical and mechanical properties revealed natural fiber blends comprised of cotton byproducts (carpel, sticks, leaf, and lint), in combination with starch, gypsum, and cottonseed hulls. The findings revealed physico-mechanical properties comparable to or equivalent to polystyrene materials. A follow up study optimized blends comprised of various combinations of eight natural fibers to optimize the physico-mechanical properties to more closely achieve target end-user specifications. Properties evaluated included: density, strength (compressive and flexural), dimensional stability, modulus of elasticity, energy absorption, thermal conductivity, and accelerated aging. Twenty-one response variables were evaluated to determine optimal substrate blends based on nine different customer specification scenarios. Results revealed four response variables with predictive R2 values greater than 0.70: when correlated to compressive strength, compressive modulus of elasticity, dynamic energy absorption, and density. Evaluation of natural fibers, in the Ecovative process, for the manufacture of acoustic absorbers included switch-grass, rice straw, sorghum stalks, flax shive, kenaf, and hemp. Composite samples were tested over a frequency range of 250 to 4000 Hz. Results suggest an optimal performance at the primary peak annoyance frequency of concern for automotive use, where road noise has a dominate human perceptive peak frequency of 1000 Hz. Ongoing studies are evaluating applications for biomedical use, one-use cushions in the deployment of tsunami buoys, and termite resistance. The potential for additional applications continues to grow.