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ARS Home » Plains Area » Lubbock, Texas » Cropping Systems Research Laboratory » Cotton Production and Processing Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #312241


item ZIEGLER, A. - Brianlab
item BAJWA, S. - North Dakota State University
item Holt, Gregory
item MCINTYRE, G. - Ecovative Design, Llc

Submitted to: International Conference on Natural Fibers
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/27/2015
Publication Date: 4/27/2015
Citation: Ziegler, A., Bajwa, S., Holt, G.A., Mcintyre, G. 2015. Analysis and evaluation of mycelium reinforced natural fiber bio-composites. International Conference on Natural Fibers, April 27-29, 2015, Azores, Portugal. p. 319-320.

Interpretive Summary: Roughly 330 million barrels of fossil fuels were used to make plastic in the U.S. in 2006. This volume of fuel equates to nearly 5% of the total annual petroleum consumption in the U.S. There is a need for alternative materials to fossiil fuels in the manufactur of composites. For some applications, natural fibers can be a viable replacement of fossil-fuel derived materials. This study evaluated the physical and mechanical properties of natural fiber composites held together by mycelium (i.e. the vegatative part of a mushroom) for potential use as a composite in biomedical applications. Composites were made of cotton and hemp and evaluated for specific gravity, water absorption, thermal expansion, hardness, compression and tensile strengh. Results indicate the cotton-based composites performed better than the hemp composites. Overall, the physical and mechanical values were lower than polystyene or low-density polyethylene. Further testing with emphasis on fiber orientation using the latest improvments in manufacturing need to be undertaken and the testing redone.Modifications in manufacturing have improved product consistency and performance.

Technical Abstract: There is a need for biodegradable alternatives to the inert plastics and expanded foams that are common in both the manufacturing process and device componentry. The material in this study is a bio-composite patented by Ecovative Design LLC. The manufacturer's bio-composite utilizes fungal mycelium to integrate a plant fiber matrix. This material is currently marketed as a degradable alternative to polystyrene packaging materials. This study was conducted to investigate bio-composites samples manufactured with different fiber-fungal strain combinations and to analyze their appropriateness for biomedical use. Tests conducted in this report present one of the first examinations of this material’s physico-mechanical properties.