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I am interested in bio materials that can return to the earth to support a circular economy. This project is the start of a larger project that will look at home made tools and products using waste food and bio materials to engage people to understand more about the product journey of the items they have in their home, ultimately reducing their consumption and impact on the environment.

Mycelium is the reproduction part of a fungus, consisting of a mass of branching, thread-like hyphae.

Mycelium is a fast growing organism and one of its primary uses is to decompose organic compounds. Petroleum products and some pesticides are organic molecules as they are built on a carbon structure, so they can be a potential carbon source for mycelium. This means it has the potential to consume such pollutants from their environment, (unless the chemicals are toxic to the fungus) which is a great potential for the circular economy to reduce the impact of plastics on the environment. As part of my research I will continue experimenting with the potential of this material to make a big difference to the material world.

This instructable guides you to making a material that is open for experimentation, it is not an end product. Get creative, and share your results.

You will need:

A sealable container - a glass tupperware is perfect

Corrugated cardboard

mushroom with a large base - I used King Oyster mushrooms

A scalpel or small knife

A dark place to store - a bucket is useful

Step 1: Prepare the Growing Environment

Cut the cardboard into pieces that fit well into the container.

Stack them up inside and fill with water, you may need to weight them down so they are fully immersed under the water. Soak for 20-30 minutes so the layers of the cardboard will separate easily.

Drain then separate the layers so you have sheets of corrugated layers and sheets of flat card.

Step 2: Cut Pieces of Mushroom

Take your mushroom and scalpel to cut tiny slices of the base. Only use the base as this is the reproduction part which will grow within the cardboard.

The third picture gives you a sense of scale to guide you with the size of each piece, make sure they are thin layers.

This will take you a while. I will be experimenting with using a food blender to see if this process can be sped up and if it effects the growth of mycelium.

Step 3: Add the Layers

Add a layer of cardboard to the bottom of the container, as you form the layers you need to have a corrugated sheet and a flat sheet, the corrugated layer gives the mycelium space to grow into. Alternatively you can use corrugated sheets for all layers.

Spread the little pieces of mushroom evenly and fairly close together and cover with a sheet of cardboard.

Repeat until you have filled the container and the layers are filled with mushroom.

Step 4: Store and Grow

Now you have the container ready, close the lid and store in a dark place at room temperature. Each day open the box to let some air out. Without any air exchange carbon dioxide levels build up and your mycelium will have stunted growth.

I put the container in a black bucket so it was in a dark place.

Step 5: Watching It Grow

This is the exciting part. After a few days the mycelium will start to appear through the edges of the cardboard, this is why a clear box is the best as it allows you to see whats happening. It appears to seep through the cardboard, filling in all the gaps and holes.

Once the mycelium has reached a level you are happy with (I am still waiting for mine to completely surround the cardboard) you can heat the block to stop it growing any further. As my mycelium hasn't stopped growing I am yet to experiment with the heat process and the end product, when that happens I will update my instructable to explain my development. As I said in the introduction this is a work in progress project.

Thanks for reading.

What about the contamination? It seems that you not use any precautions toward that. I always end up with green mold (Trichoderma to be more specific) How is that it isn't in your case?
<p>Hey, well with this one I didn't get any contamination which was surprising as since then i have been working with sterilisation processes to stop potential unwanted bacteria and molds. In all honesty I am quite surprised this worked so well. Now I sterilise in an autoclave for 3 hours, i used filter bags with a vacuum seal and grow in a Laminar flow, some work fantastically but some do still get contaminated. I think it depends on what substrate as I was using spent beer grain which was much more vulnerable to contamination than straw was. </p>
<p>did you build your own flow hood? i use a still air box at this time but would love the freedom of a Laminar flow but don't want spend as much as they cost as its just a hobby at the moment.</p><p>awesome job on the instructables by the way </p>
<p>Don't throw it out! If you leave it long enough you might grow some mushrooms (something I am currently trying to do with white button mushrooms.) Also you can get spores from store bought mushrooms by cutting off the stem, exposing the &quot;frills&quot; and place the mushroom cap on a piece of paper with a bowl covering it. Leave it overnight and spores will fall out. In the morning you will see a spore print underneath the mushroom cap, put the paper in some moist cardboard and you should get the same result, over a longer period of time.</p>
<p>Wow! I already recycle left overs into sculpture (was in a building fire so can no longer use any synthetic chemicals even perfumes as most made from petro oils and all tested on animals) but due to subsequent low income can no longer afford the vitamin/mineral rich variety of mushrooms. I had heard of a person on Coast to Coast with regard to his ability to grow hard to grow mushrooms (developed into a business, and sorry long ago, so forgot his name and it was beyond my limitations - space so on) but this can allow me to grow my own and is an extension of my &quot;paper&quot; sculpture - even collections I find during walks (which cleans up the area as well). </p><p>I am so thrilled this came in my inbox today - thank you for sharing.</p><p>I know as well certain cities like Philadelphia have created a project whereby an old abandoned building was used to create sustainable food sources - ie plants, fish (waste nourishes plants) nothing new but being put to use rather then let the beautiful buildings decay. This might be an area they or others in other cities could use in such programs (Detroit would be a great place with all the raw material). </p><p>Please keep us posted on your developments! Thanks again!</p>
<p>Thanks for the comment. I'm glad you are as excited by this as me! hope you have success like me, if you have anymore questions as you start the process, give me a shout and I might be able to tell you a solution. </p>
Thank you I will. One concern in my mind was this. (due to chemical injury post building fire). I know many paper products are treated with many toxic chemicals (pesticide control). Is this soaked out or perhaps the mushrooms are able to &quot;convert&quot; them into something non toxic. (I have background in biochemistry, chemistry of arts and research but no time right now to look this up). Thanks will bookmark your page...
<p>Cool! The fungal research group at the university where I'm studying are also producing bowls and (prototypes of) furniture from mycelium and I'm happy to see other people having the same ideas as well. An acquaintance of mine also figured out ways to make mycelium more (or less) elastic as well.</p>
<p>That sounds awesome, which university are you at? Could you put me in touch with someone from the research group? I'd love to develop it further. </p><p>Thanks </p>
It's Utrecht University in the Netherlands. They've made a little clip regarding the use of mycelium as a replacement for plastic and other materials. Here's the link: https://youtu.be/jnMXH5TqqG8<br><br>I think there is some contact information of the research group and (artistic) collaborators at the end of the video. If not, then contact me again :)
<p>Thanks for posting that information as well. </p>
<p>Brilliant! thanks, thats really useful. Hopefully it will lead me to another mushroom related instructable. </p>
<p>I saw this at World Maker Faire that you might be interested in.</p><p>http://giy.ecovativedesign.com/#what</p>
<p>Thanks, I do already know this company. </p>
<p>Is this a process resulting in anything edible? Can you just poke some holes in the box and leave it in the dark?</p>
Hey, yes definitely, I haven't done it myself but what you would have to do is allow the mycelium to grow first, like in these steps and then over time mushrooms will grow, you could poke holes in the box or simply leave it with the lid off, here's a good follow on instructable that might be useful: <br><br>https://www.instructables.com/id/Water-Jet-Cut-Wall-Hanging-Mushroom-Garden/<br><br>The mushrooms I used here were king oyster mushrooms, so of course that is what will grow. Good luck. :)
<p>Cool!</p><p> Well Done!</p>

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