Just when you thought mushrooms were only useful as culinary garnishes (or maybe hallucinogenics as well), Gavin McIntyre and Eben Bayer, two students from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have found a more noble purpose for the functional fungi- building insulation made from oyster mushrooms.

Greensulate is a fire-retardant board made out of water, flour, perlite, and mushroom spores. The idea came from an assignment which asked that they produce a form of sustainable insulation. The insulation material is grown by pouring the ingredients into 7 by 7 inch molds with hydrogen peroxide. When this mixture is placed in a dark environment, the mushroom oyster cells start to grow into a 1 inch thick panel, which is then dried to prevent fungus from growing. The pair have a working prototype, which in true college fashion, was grown under their beds.

“I think it has a lot of potential, and it could make a big difference in people’s lives,” said RPI Professor Burt Swersy, whose Inventor’s Studio course inspired the product’s creation. “It’s sustainable, and enviro-friendly, it’s not based on petrochemicals and doesn’t require much energy or cost to make it.”

+ Mushrooms Become Source for Eco-Building