NEWS AND INFORMATION
Environmental Protection Packaging Mushroom Manufacturing
This natural packaging foam is widely used because it can "grow" in all kinds of molds and grow into any shape.
Polystyrene is a common packaging material, but no known organism can degrade it at present. About 30% of waste in landfills is polystyrene. Two young entrepreneurs in Vermont decided to change that. They plan to combine fungi with agricultural waste to create inexpensive, strong and easily degradable packaging materials.
Ebenbauer has a goal: he wants to eliminate the polystyrene packaging industry. It's an ambitious project. His company, Ecovative Design, has made many powerful friends and has been recognized as a technological pioneer at the World Economic Forum in Davos, attracting millions of dollars in investment from EPA, the National Science Foundation, the United States Department of Agriculture and private venture capital companies.
Ecovative is located in a comprehensive industrial center in Green Island Town, where Bayer studied and started his own business four years ago. Bayer created a new manufacturing industry based on mushroom spore based foam packaging empire.
Ecovative production begins with agricultural waste. The three giant stainless steel storage tanks in front of Bayer are filled with cotton chips, rice husks and buckwheat husks left behind by crop processing. These materials are placed on the conveyor belt, sterilized by a steam purifier, and then mixed with spore hyphae. The mixture is loaded into plastic moulds. The shapes of the moulds vary. Some of the final products are used to pack computers, others are used to pack wine or office furniture parts.
They are then placed on multi-storey metal shelves. The rest of the work is left to the hyphae.
"It releases a substance into agricultural waste, which is the way it decomposes cellulose." It absorbs cellulose, digests it, and converts it into a polymer. What we're doing is using this body as glue; a living adhesive that fills every gap and corner of the die.
Over the next five days, the hyphae will consume most of the organic material and wrap the rest with filaments many times thinner than human hair. Opening the mould, the finished product looks like white chocolate with broken almonds. It feels soft, like a mushroom, but quite tough. By changing the base material mixture, Gavin and Mcintyre's chief scientist and Bayer's business partners can adjust the strength and elasticity of the foam. Adding more chips of ginned cotton can increase the heat insulation performance, and adding more rice husks can enhance the fire protection performance.
Each cubic centimeter of EcoCradle foam contains 4.8 kilometre of hyphae fibers, which do not need to consume a little energy. "This organism is not picky at all." "We can use almost any lignin fiber as a base material," Bayer said. This includes sawdust, pulp and even lobster shells.
This is the advantage of the company's products. EcoCradle's production process does not require fossil fuels and can be completely degraded into compost. When it completes its packaging mission, you can throw it into the garden. Within 90 days, it will degrade itself. For packaging materials, degradability is a huge selling point.
In 1909, Belgian chemist Leo Bakland invented phenolic plastics. His original intention was to create an artificial polymer similar to shellac secreted by Asian beetles. Bayer and McIntyre despised such ideas. They appreciate nature all their lives and think about how to use natural methods to improve technology.
Basically, their philosophy can be summarized as follows: why do we need synthetic substitutes when nature creates so many materials?
Now, Ecoative produces about 10 thousand EcoCradle foams a week, almost exclusively for packaging and transportation of DELL computers and Steele Keith office furniture. Unlike Silicon Valley's software company, the company's R&D efforts cannot be accomplished simply by adding servers. In order to develop new markets, Ecovative has to start factories all over the United States. In order to go abroad, it needs to knock on the door of China. Almost every product produced by the "World Factory" needs packaging.
Sustainable packaging ideas are emerging all over the world. U-Haul, a truck taxi company, claims to have cut 170,000 cubic metres of polystyrene from landfills by switching to peanut packaging materials made from grain and potato starch. Pepsi Cola plans to launch a new beverage bottle in 2012 that does not require petroleum. The material for the bottle will come from the sugar contained in switchgrass, pine bark and corn husk.
"The industry used to think that polystyrene foam is irreplaceable, as they once thought that CFCs (ozone depleting substances used to be used as propellants and refrigerants in spray containers) are irreplaceable." GreenBiz consultant Joel MacDoll said, "no one likes styrofoam foam. After use, it has no other use than decomposition and remodeling, but the choice is unattractive. Now, people have an alternative material that can be thrown into the soil and turned into fertilizer. This makes the dream of "from cradle to cradle" come true.