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Beth Stackpole
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Not pretty, but highly functional
Beth Stackpole   2/10/2012 10:23:31 AM
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Very cool concept, but in terms of appearance--far less appetizing than mushrooms in their edible form! I love the idea of the natural materials and the fact that there's a eco-process for cultivating your own materials. But they've got to do something about the look and feel if they want any potential application base beyond behind-the-scenes packaging. That's down right ugly!

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Not pretty, but highly functional
Ann R. Thryft   2/10/2012 12:41:46 PM
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Well, to each her own. I guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Personally, I like the way it looks: it's so organic and earthy and so clearly not scary Styrofoam or some other ugly petro-based substance that looks unnatural and like it comes from outer space. Of course, this is being sold to businesses not individuals, but here in Santa Cruz County, and other neighboring counties in California, this stuff would sell like hotcakes. In fact, I thought they must be a local company, but they're based in NY state.


William K.
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Packaging materials grown from mushrooms
William K.   2/10/2012 12:44:27 PM
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This is a great idea and a brilliant concept. One question is about the effort required to recover the roots and the oat hulls, how much time and energy does that take? Of course, the fact that neither of the materials is considered a food for either animals or humans is a very positive thing.

I do wonder about how much energy the corner cusion shown can handle. Is there any information about that detail?

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Packaging materials grown from mushrooms
Ann R. Thryft   2/10/2012 12:58:11 PM
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William, there's a lot of info on lifecycle assessment and manufacturing processes on both websites, as well as case studies. I can't recall if there are MDS posted, but I suspect the company would be happy to answer questions like yours.


William K.
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Packaging materials grown from mushrooms
William K.   2/10/2012 2:07:12 PM
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Ann, It seemed to me that a press release pointing out some of the excellent qualifications of such a product should also tout the other considerations as well. When you are talking up a product it is wise to cover all of the reasons why your product is "wonderful".

Dave Palmer
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Possible applications?
Dave Palmer   2/10/2012 2:30:08 PM
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Ann, thanks for another great article on an interesting subject.  I wonder what the sound absorbing properties of this material are.  Could you construct a good acoustic foam out of networks of mycelia? I'm working on acoustic foams right now, so this caught my attention. 

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Possible applications?
Ann R. Thryft   2/10/2012 2:43:13 PM
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Dave, that's a good question. Since one of the apps the company is working on is for insulation in construction, my guess is that the material has some sound-damping qualities, although they don't appear to be marketing it for that use specifically. But it's hard to tell--the company appears to be interested in aiming this at several different types of applications, and they point out that custom materials and apps are easy to do. I'm sure they'd be open to such questions. Let us know if you find out.


Rob Spiegel
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Re: Not pretty, but highly functional
Rob Spiegel   2/10/2012 3:33:46 PM
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It will be interesting to see how this sells. It's so unusual, there is danger it will look dated in a few years -- like beanbag chairs or shag carpeting. But perhaps the point isn't the styling but the material. The material could end up inside varying styles.

Alexander Wolfe
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Re: Packaging materials grown from mushrooms
Alexander Wolfe   2/11/2012 12:48:05 PM
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This leads to all kinds of humorous thoughts, like, did they make these packaging materials from magic mushrooms? (And thus you'd feel very relaxed when you use anything that's been packed in them.) And can they also make this stuff from that garlic where they've removed the smell?

This is all by way of saying that I that certain eco materials have a bit on an "ick" factor associated with them, where you'd rather not publicize too widely where they came from.  Recycled plastics and such make sense because we've been socialize to expect to see them. Biologically based materials, not so much.

Also, I'd say there's an analogy to the early antibiotic era, where R&D in new materials is going on at such a rapid clip right now that anything and everything is being experimented with. Which is exciting to see, but eventually we'll see maturity and then shake-out, where a certain range of materials rise to the fore and the others disappear from view.

 

Tim
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Platinum
Re: Possible applications?
Tim   2/11/2012 7:06:49 PM
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The application of this material as insulation is a great hidden use of a relatively ugly material.  As it is a new technology, it would be interesting to see the fire retardence of the material. 

On a different note, if you had mushroom grown insulation on your house with controlled growth forest timber structure and bio polymer siding, you could basically say that you "grew" your house. 

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