Can you imagine wearing a coat made of mushrooms? Or how about cleaning your home with antimicrobial, mushroom-based cleaners? Maybe your take-out is placed in a mushroom-based container and not Styrofoam? This just may be our future, and the research is ongoing into the use of mushrooms for many products we’ll use in our everyday lives.
Mushrooms are the future for creating environmentally safe products, according to The Funguschain project. The tons of waste produced by these popular fungi may just be the answer to everything from cleaning and plastics to food additives and more.
The science behind it all.
Europe generates over 60,000 tons of mushroom waste every week. The Funguschain project has come up with a viable solution for dealing with this waste and refining it for use. Four different biorefinery approaches are available to turn mushroom waste into products with a purpose.
Here’s how they’re doing it:
1. Microwave-Assisted Extraction
Using microwave radiation quickly and reliably extracts needed materials from mushroom waste to create useful products. This method results in the extraction of antimicrobial, antioxidants and polyols. These ingredients are found in cleaning products, food supplements and plastics. Once the molecules are extracted, further refining processes are used to create eco-friendly home cleaning products, proteins additive for food supplements and plastic gloves or bags.
2. Pressurized Hot Water Extraction
To extract materials in a liquid form, scientists use pressurized hot water extraction. Byproducts from this method result in polysaccharide (a complex carbohydrate) and bioactive proteins with prebiotic properties. Extracting with this method provides products useful for texturizing agents in food products. Texturizing agents are helpful in foods to assist with gelling, thickening, emulsifying and stabilizing certain products.
3. Saccharification Fermentation
The fermentation process breaks down mushroom waste into fermented sugars for creating new bioplastic blends and biopolyesters. This useful in the plastic sectors to create new products like gloves and even film.
4. Anaerobic Digestion
To break down waste, scientists rely on anaerobic digestion. This method uses microorganisms in the absence of oxygen. It’s used to produce compost and biogas by breaking down biodegradable waste in a landfill and produced inside an anaerobic digester.
What does this innovation mean?
In the near future, you might find eco-friendly cleaning products made from mushroom wastes. This also means more biodegradable ways to package food instead of using Styrofoam and other environmentally unsafe products.
It may also mean enriched food supplements to help the elderly or those who participate in competitive sports. Mushrooms can even be used to create fabrics that mimic suede and other fabrics. These fabrics are not only useful or clothing, hats, and purses, but also have other beneficial, versatile uses:
- Furniture – researchers are working on growing furniture
- Home building materials – scientists are working on creating building materials made from mushrooms that are tough as bricks
- Packaging materials – recyclable packaging materials are needed and mushrooms may be the answer. Some companies already use this method to eliminate waste.
Mushrooms may be the answer to the world’s problems, but for now, these processes and products are being put through rigorous testing to ensure that they don’t add more problems than they’re trying to solve.
But who knows; in the future, mushrooms may be the source of many products you use in the home, garden and even wear or sit on or live in. The possibilities are there and with the help of clever scientists, may help to create eco-friendly products that can solve our toxic waste woes.