A (very cool) fungus grows in Troy

Eben Bayer Greensulate

Eben Bayer with a piece of Greensulate.

By Jessica Pasko

OK, so you've probably heard all about locavorism and the effort to buy locally-sourced, but what about taking that philosophy and applying it to industrialism?

That's exactly what RPI grads Eben Bayer and Gavin McIntyre are trying to do with their company Ecovative Design.

Bayer and McIntyre have been getting international attention for a process they created that uses mushrooms to create biodegradable insulation. After winning a series of grants and prizes, they've now officially launched their business with a product called Greensulate.

Greensulate bowlHere's how it's created, more or less: Spores from mushroom specimens are mixed with water, grains and a mineral mixture called perlite and put in a mold. The spores then grow root-like cellular strands throughout the mixture, forming a "sheet" that can be dried and hardened into rigid boards or other shapes. The resulting material is a lot like Styrofoam, only it's organic and natural and isn't going to sit in landfills and survive the nuclear holocaust along with cockroaches and Twinkies. Oh, and it doesn't require the use of potentially harmful chemicals in its construction, nor does it release harmful byproducts. It's also cheap to make.

Bayer grew up on a farm in Vermont, learning about mushrooms and other vegetation. So when tasked with coming up with a sustainable building material, he thought the fungus might work. And so far, it has.

As students, some of Bayer and McIntyre's specimens were grown in decidedly non-scientific places -- like under their beds. But the two have now scored themselves a spot in RPI's business incubator. That's where they -- along with others such as Stanford grad Ed Browka -- are experimenting with their product to construct packing materials, organic biodegradable planters, and much more. They're also on the lookout into local woods for new fungi with which to experiment.

They take great pride in using local products to construct Greensulate whenever possible. For products used in New York, they've been using native grains like winter rye and buckwheat, and they've also been experimenting with a product for the Texas market that could be made with grains indigenous to the Lone Star state.

Ecovative Designs is currently working with a couple of different businesses to try to bring their product to market. And last month the team won $750,000 in the 2008 PICNIC Green Challenge, an international competition challenging entrepreneurs to reduce carbon dioxide emissions with new consumer products or services.

Photos: Ecovative Design LLC

Comments

Did these guys have an article about them in Discover magazine by any chance? I think I remember reading about them. Or perhaps I had a psychic vision about this post. Or maybe I just hit my head. Yeah, I probably just hit my head. Freaking banana peels get me every time.

Pants, I believe you're right.

Say Something!

We'd really like you to take part in the conversation here at All Over Albany. But we do have a few rules here. Don't worry, they're easy. The first: be kind. The second: treat everyone else with the same respect you'd like to see in return. Cool? Great, post away. Comments are moderated so it might take a little while for your comment to show up. Thanks for being patient.

What's All Over Albany?

All Over Albany is for interested and interesting people in New York's Capital Region. In other words, it's for you. It's kind of like having a smart, savvy friend who can help you find out what's up. Oh, and our friends call us AOA.

Search

Recently on All Over Albany

Photos from the 2018 Women's March in Albany

Thousands of people gathered in West Capitol Park in Albany Saturday afternoon for a second Women's March, a follow-up to a similar event a year... (more)

A big step forward for the Quackenbush Center mixed-use project, and other exciting tales of the Albany Planning Board

That big mixed-use project proposed for just north of Quackenbush Square in downtown Albany took an important step forward this week when the city planning... (more)

Belt Line 3

The owners of Roux in Slingerlands are planning to open a new restaurant in a space on Hamilton Street in Albany, just up from the... (more)

Stuff to do this weekend

We're in that January lull in the Capital Region -- those couple of weeks after the holidays when things slow down just a touch. But... (more)

Morning Blend

Call for Troy police reform + Prompted by the recent state Attorney General's office report about the fatal police shooting of Edson Thevenin, activists gathered... (more)

Recent Comments

When I think of spring, I think about riding my bike along the Mohawk. The spring breeze flows over me and I'm free.

A good rehearsal dinner spot in Saratoga?

...has 6 comments, most recently from AddiesDad

Capital Region ice skating spots

...has 1 comment, most recently from Nancy

Belt Line 3

...has 10 comments, most recently from BS

A big step forward for the Quackenbush Center mixed-use project, and other exciting tales of the Albany Planning Board

...has 2 comments, most recently from Greg

The week ahead

...has 1 comment, most recently from Dave