Natural materials are great, but I wonder how they will scale up. This seems to be a problem for all alternatives to hydrocarbon based materials. The fact is that chemical plants can be engineered to make massive amounts of material quite easily. We hear about these organic alternatives, then it all peters out. Not long ago containers made from corn stalks were going to replace plastic. These are the clear containers that fruits and vegetables might come in. I haven't heard about it much since. I hope that is not the situation here. Reducing our dependence on oil is a good thing.
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.
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.
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.
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, 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".
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.
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?
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.
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