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Patent For Better Insulation

There's a fungus among us that could become a more environmentally-friendly way to weatherize your home, or business. Eben Bayer, a recent graduate from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, has patented a process for making insulation using: Mushroom spores.

Conventional foam insulations are great for getting into those hard to reach corners. But, they are not very Earth-friendly. First, some are petroleum products -- a limited resource. And second, even if it includes recycled newspaper as the base, Earth-toxic flame retardants have to be added to meet building code safety standards.

In contrast, Bayer's invention is a mixture of water, flour, oyster mushroom spores and perlite -- a fire resistant mineral blend found in potting soil. The mushroom spores, injected into a mold, gorge on the starch in the mixture. The spores produce a tightly meshed network of insulating particles and thread-like branches called mycelium. The final product is a composite board that's both a firewall and insulation.

A Rensselaer professor calls the spore-based brew a better insulation that saves energy and doesn't pollute the environment. And of course, Bayer and associates are counting on its sales to, well, mushroom.

Script by Pat Maxwell

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