A US biotechnology start-up has developed a viable natural competitor to plastic foams that they believe can be used to replace existing rigid board insulation systems.

Using agricultural byproducts with fungal mycelium (a natural, self-assembling binder), Evocative’s alternative process involves live Mushroom Insulation being packed in between the walls, a concept that recently won the group second place in the Cradle-to-Cradle Product Innovation Challenge.

According to the company, the mycelium takes three days to grow and solidify the loose particles into the air-sealed insulation where it can adhere to pine board.

The result is similar to a structural insulating panel, yet unlike conventional rigid board insulation (such as extruded polystyrene), which is made of finite petrochemicals, the Ecovative Mushroom Insulation is created without harsh flame retardant chemicals.

For those worried about the potential of their walls sprouting mushrooms, Ecovative assures that the fungi will only fruit through gaps as a result of improper construction, and can easily be trimmed off with a knife before they produce spores.

Courtesy Arch Daily