Development and Demonstration of a Low Embodied Energy, Construction Material that Replaces Expanded Polystyrene and Other Synthetic MaterialsEPA Contract Number: EPD10058
Title: Development and Demonstration of a Low Embodied Energy, Construction Material that Replaces Expanded Polystyrene and Other Synthetic Materials
Investigators: McIntyre, Gavin
Small Business: Ecovative Design, LLC
EPA Contact: Richards, April
Project Period: May 1, 2010 through April 30, 2012
Project Amount: $225,000
RFA: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) - Phase II (2010) RFA Text | Recipients Lists
Research Category: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) , SBIR - Green Buildings
The MycoBond™ platform is an innovative material technology that converts industrial and agricultural byproducts into a high-performance, cost-competitive biocomposite. Positioned as a direct replacement for hydrocarbon-derived synthetics, such as expanded polystyrene, MycoBond™ materials literally are grown in 5 to 7 days. The vegetative growth of a filamentous fungus, mycelium, produces exoenzymes to breakdown the compounds found in the raw materials while bonding the particles into a cohesive whole with new growth. This versatile platform is an open system and does not depend on a solitary feedstock, which allows for regional manufacturing that institutes local waste streams. There are several markets that are applicable for the biological material including protective packaging ($2.3 billion/yr), structural cores ($1 billion/yr), and rigid board insulation ($6 billion/yr). Presently, Ecovative Design is scaling the prototype production system to accommodate orders for local customers of protective packaging material. Concurrently, the final compliance tests will be completed for the construction material to address the larger market by 2011.
The rigid board insulation, Greensulate™, has been developed under a Phase I project from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). To date, Greensulate™ has complied with the American Standards for Testing and Materials (ASTM) for thermal performance, structural integrity, biodegradability, and moisture properties. The results from these studies have allowed Ecovative to install Greensulate™ in a number of demonstration projects in the American Northeast. Market analysis has identified the structural insulating panel (SIP) industry as the best market entry point for the insulation because of a product focus on energy conservation. Additional testing for sandwich construction is required for this segment and this testing is the focus of the Phase II project scope. Once complete, the technology will be salable as a structural core for products that range from light-weight vehicle panels to furniture. Although Ecovative presently is developing a production line that will be capable of producing 200 cubic feet of material monthly, a contract manufacturing opportunity will be explored as well. The company is collaborating with one of the world’s largest mushroom farms, which is interested in manufacturing Greensulate™ to fill excess capacity and expand into new markets. This relationship would allow Ecovative to reach more customers in the insulation market while reducing the commercialization timeline. MycoBond™ composite can revitalize regional economics with local production (500 miles from clientele) and transform materials considered waste into a higher value product.