Researchers develop novel eco-friendly materials from mushrooms, coffee grounds, and pineapple

In an incredible development, researchers introduced an innovative and environmentally friendly material known as "mycelium-based composites (MBCs)."


These composites, known for their unique properties, are gaining favour in a variety of industries, particularly those where sustainability and environmental impact are critical considerations.

A study titled "Fabrication of mycelium (oyster mushroom)-based composites derived from spent coffee grounds with pineapple fibre reinforcement," published in Mycology, highlights the exceptional properties of MBCs, with a primary focus on their biodegradability. Unlike synthetic materials, MBCs can be composted at the end of their lives, decomposing into harmless, natural elements, considerably decreasing waste and lowering their environmental impact.

MBC production is fundamentally sustainable, as it uses mycelium—fungi's root structure—grown on diverse organic waste materials. This strategy repurposes trash and ensures an environmentally friendly manufacturing process that uses less energy than traditional plastics and synthetic materials.

MBCs have adaptable physical qualities, enabling for the adjustment of strength and density to suit a wide range of applications, from lightweight packaging to strong building materials. Their superior natural insulation capabilities, both thermal and acoustic, make them desirable in the construction industry, particularly for insulation panels. Furthermore, certain treatments can make MBCs fire resistant, increasing their safety profile and broadening their application.

This innovative study was led by Dr. Nattawut Boonyuen, a mycologist from the National Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (BIOTEC) at the National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA), and Dr. Pitak Laoratanakul from the National Metal and Materials Technology Centre (MTEC), as well as researchers from King Mongkut's University of Technology Thonburi (KMUTT) and King Mongkut's Institute of Technology Ladkrabang (KMITL).

Their research yielded a unique material that combines oyster mushroom mycelia with used coffee grounds and natural pineapple fibres. The result, which is adaptable by modifying the quantity of pineapple fibres, represents a substantial advancement in sustainable materials. The fire-resistant feature of MBCs highlights their use, combining environmental sustainability with safety—an unusual combination in material science.

This discovery not only marks an advancement in environmentally friendly materials, but it also represents a big step towards sustainable living. The combination of natural ingredients and scientific innovation, as shown by mushrooms and coffee grounds, may spark a broader environmental revolution as we investigate the potential of such materials.