New Prospects for Greening the Arctic Infrastructure: Mycellium-Based Insulating Biofoams

Lead Author Philippe, Amstislavski
Institution Contact Department of Health Sciences University of Alaska Anchorage Bragaw Building Suite 220 3211 Providence Drive Anchorage, AK 99508-4614
Co-Authors Zhaohui (Joey) Yang Department of Civil Engineering, College of Engineering, University of Alaska Anchorage, Anchorage, 99508, United States Maria D White Department of Chemistry, University of Alaska Anchorage, Anchorage, 99508, United States
Theme Theme 1: Vulnerability of Arctic Environments
Session Name 1.6 Strategies for ecosystem services and sustainable environmental management of soils and contaminated areas in the Arctic
Datetime Wed, Sep 14, 2016 01:00 PM - 01:15 PM
Presentation Type Oral
Abstract text Polymeric foams, such as polystyrene and polyurethane foams, are commonly used for thermal insulation in infrastructure and housing construction, particularly in Alaska and in other cold climate regions. These hydrocarbon-based materials are not subject to decomposition or decay in the environment. They are non-renewable and their production and use involve complex manufacturing processes, large energy inputs and waste streams creating problems with respect to recycling, reuse, and landfill operation. Mycelium, the vegetative part of fungi, is a hollow tubular “root” structure that provides a fast growing, safe and inert binder for a new generation of bioengineered insulating foams, or biofoams. Biofoams can serve as replacements for the petroleum-based polymers for geoengineering applications and offer several advantages over polymeric foams, including freedom from petroleum products, low energy inputs and low cost of production, fast renewability, carbon capture and storage, and bio-degradability at end of use. This research characterizes key occupational health, thermal and mechanical properties of an innovative fungal mycelium-based biofoam. Samples were tested for cytotoxicity, density, thermal conductivity, elastic moduli, and compressive strength. Findings indicate that this material is not cytotoxic, and its compressive strength and thermal conductivity, meet or exceed like characteristics of the conventional polymeric thermal foams except dry density. The results suggest that fungi mycelium-based biofoam offers a strong potential for application as an alternative to polymeric foams particularly in cold regions. Potential future uses include road underlayment and backfill for geoengineering applications, and as insulation in buildings and infrastructure.
Keywords: Fungal mycelium-based biofoam; Forestry byproducts, Circumpolar North, Thermal conductivity; Elastic moduli, Compressive strength, Cold regions, Chitin, Sustainable development, Biomaterials.
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