According to the developers, the production of fungal skin takes less time compared to how much
Cotton, textiles and leather are in short supply:their production is also harmful to the environment. In addition, a lot of food is wasted. Akram Zamani, Ph.D., wanted to solve these seemingly unrelated problems: she created new environmentally friendly bio-based materials.
We hope they can replace cottonsynthetic fibers and animal skin. When developing our process, we tried not to use toxic chemicals or anything that could harm the environment.
Akram Zamani, PhD
Like humans, mushrooms need to eat.To do this, the team collected unsold bread from the supermarket, then dried it and ground it into breadcrumbs. They were mixed with water and added with Rhizopus delemar spores, which are commonly found in decaying food.
When the mushroom began to eat bread, it producedmicroscopic natural fibers from chitin and chitosan that accumulated in its cell walls. Two days later, the scientists harvested the cells, removed lipids, proteins, and other by-products that could be used in food or feed. The remaining jelly-like residue, consisting of fibrous cell walls, was spun into yarn. It can be used for sutures or wound healing, and possibly in clothing as well.
The suspension of fungal cells was laid out and dried,to get a material similar to paper or leather. The team's first fungal skin prototypes were thin and not flexible enough. Now the group is trying to make it thicker: folds the material in several layers.
Further, the composites are treated with tannins obtained from wood: they give the structure softness, and alkali treatment makes them stronger.
Our tests show that fungal leather has mechanical properties quite comparable to genuine leather.
Akram Zamani, PhD
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