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Mycelium materials for fireproofing buildings, furnishings, and electronics

Updated: Aug 28, 2023

Australia experiences over 17,000 residential fires annually with its fire-prone vegetation and hot, dry climate.

To combat these dangers, Tien Huynh, Everson Kandare, Nattanan Chulikavit, from RMIT University have developed fireproofing materials using mycelium, withstanding flames, protecting buildings and their occupants.

Traditionally, the construction industry employed harmful chemicals known as "halogenated flame retardants" in the 1970s for fireproofing buildings, furnishings, and electronics. Unfortunately, these chemicals, containing bromide or chlorine, have been linked to adverse health effects like cancer, immunotoxicity, and reproductive toxicity.

Enter mycelium-based material, composed mainly of the natural polymer chitin found in crab shells and insect exoskeletons, boasts impressive properties. Lightweight, eco-friendly, and biodegradable, it has a longer ignition time compared to traditional materials.

When exposed to intense heat or fire, the mycelium material transforms into a protective char, similar to the charcoal left after wood burns. This char effectively slows down heat transfer and prevents further combustion, ensuring the safety and integrity of the underlying flammable material.

Unlike conventional fireproofing materials, the mycelium-based solution releases only harmless natural by-products like water and carbon dioxide when subjected to fire. Furthermore, its flexibility allows it to be used as thin wallpaper-like sheets or consolidated into thicker, timber or cladding-like core materials.

The team's dedication and collaboration with industry partners will propel this innovation toward a future where building fires are significantly reduced, leading to safer, more sustainable living spaces for all.







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