There are traditionally two ways to make a leather jacket. One involves the cow, which takes years. The other includes synthetic fabric, which requires plastic. But there is a third option: thick sheets of woven fungus, which can grow for two weeks from sawdust to agricultural waste.
Alexander Bismarck, a materials scientist at the University of Vienna, said: “It tastes a little like a mushroom, but it’s like a piece of old leather jacket.
Over the past decade, companies in the United States, Indonesia, and Korea have used fungal leather as a moral and environmentally sustainable substitute for cow hides and plastics. Previously, there was no further research to support their claims. But Dr. A study published by Bismarck et al Last week on Nature Sustainability Fungus leathers are found to sort well when it comes to variety and sustainability.
Wearing fungus leather does not mean wearing a mushroom motorcycle jacket. Instead it is made from a mat of mycelium, thread-like root networks that pop up effective bodies after a rainstorm. These mycelium mats grow easily on any organism.
Since the 1950s, inventors have been filing patents based on fungus mats as a material for paper, wound clothing, and other products, but they have never been fully captured, said Mitchell Jones, a leading author and material scientist at the University of Vienna. Technology.
But in the last decade, companies like MicoWorks and Bolt Threads have started making and selling fungus leather products.
“With leather, you are limited to the skin that an animal produces throughout its life, while the mycelium mats can be grown to specificity, ”said Sofia Wang, co-founder of MicoWorks.
The potential of custom materials is huge, says Dr. Bismarck said that because different types of fungi have different properties such as hardness and water resistance, it is possible to select millions of species.
Fungus leather is more durable than other leather sources. The tanning process is intense and energetic Mud waste – The production of synthetic leather requires plastic, which contains oil. “You get an organism to do all your building for you, so there are no real energy requirements,” he said. Jones said.
“It does not need light. Once you have received this material, you can process it for leather tanning with simpler chemical treatments than you usually do. ”
Although fungus leather has performed well on the team’s durability tests, there are still some questions about its long-term toughness.
“Early industry results indicate that collateral is much better compared to animal leather,” he said. Jones said, “But some people in the industry are a little deceived because they combine polyester into blended leather.”
The fungus leather industry is still in its infancy and mainly produces evidence of the idea of that luxury market: Prototypes The Bolt Thread Fungus Leather Handbag sold for about $ 400 When they are available, the price is similar to a good quality leather bag.
But as the industry grows, so does the cost. Jones believes. There is already a large scale mushroom cultivation industry in the culinary market producing all kinds of mushrooms. There is already mass-produced mushroom technology. ”
Fungus leather products can pop up everywhere like mushrooms after a shower. The question is whether users will experience the magic. After all, if you regret the fungus leather pants you buy in the future, can you let them be thrown in the yard and composted?
“All of that has not yet been explored,” said Dr. Bismarck said.