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Chemistry In Pictures

Chemistry in Pictures: Mysterious mushroom

by Craig Bettenhausen
March 17, 2022

A man in a white coat looks at a tray of fluffy white stuff. It's dark, so he's using a flashlight.
Credit: Bolt Threads

Few would guess in their first five attempts that the man in this photo is making textiles. But that’s exactly what expert mushroom grower Leon Van Den Oord is doing. The fluffy white mats are mycelium, which is basically the root structure of mushrooms. Van Den Oord is part of a team helping biomaterials maker Bolt Threads scale up their leatherlike Mylo material, which is made using mycelium. Bolt’s current production process uses trays that are half a meter square, which has limited the kinds of customers that can use its material. The new system shown here, developed with the Dutch firm Mycelium Materials Europe based on commercial white button mushroom fungiculture, uses much bigger trays and can make Mylo sheets big enough to cover the floor of a jumbo jet. Bolt says they’ll be scaled up to 93,000 m3 per year by the end of 2022 and to more than 100,000 m3 in the near future.

Credit: Bolt Threads

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