New Innovative Way to Stay Warm Indoors

Startup idea suggests that insulation may never be the same again.

Enjoying a warm home in the winter.

(Yuganov Konstantin /

It’s winter in most of the world and while some may like the cold weather, most prefer the balmy feeling of being tucked away in their insulated homes. Insulation is essential for keeping people warm,  and now there is a new and unusual insulator on the market, and it may be the most effective one yet. 

According to innovation platform, Fast Company, a UK-based startup, Biohm, is using mushrooms to create novel insulators. How is it doing this? It is collecting biological waste for growing mushrooms that are being made into biodegradable insulation panels.

As its founder and innovation director, Ehab Saved, explains in the above video: “As a company, we are driven by the genius of nature.” For him, a regenerative impact is manifested in all of Biohm’s projects.

More on Biohm’s lightbulb moment
The company found that mycelium, the network of fungal threads that make the mushroom, resembled the structures engineered in counter plastic insulators. So it created a panel from the mycelium and tested it against its popular plastic counterpart for insulating capabilities. And Biohm’s mycelium panel came out on top. 

The mycelium is more durable and better at insulating while conducting less thermal energy. In addition, in a fire, it is slower to burn.

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Additionally, mycelium is a completely natural product and can therefore be safely composted at the end of its life, unlike alternative insulation methods which are mostly non recyclable. 

Mushrooms are Earth's superheros!
These humble fungi have such potential because they recycle nutrients from biological waste and make the nutrients available again for plants to use.

The company chose to research mushrooms as the raw material for their construction products because the mushroom is earth’s natural recycler. Fungi, like yeast, mold and the mushroom, explains a Grow Wild blog, the natural learning outreach of the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, England, can’t produce energy on their own and need a way to get nutrients. So, they release enzymes into the soil that take up biological waste and the mushrooms feed on the waste. At the same time, the waste has a place to go instead of back into the earth, making the mushroom a biological recycling superhero. 

Finding a solution to construction industry waste
It was important for Biohm to create recyclable material for their products because the construction industry is causing a significant negative environmental impact. Most building materials are not recyclable,  and when a building is demolished most of the waste eventually piles up in landfills.

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Additionally, popular insulators are developed from environmentally-harmful starting materials. Foam, for example, is made from a chemical reaction with polystyrene, polyisocyanurate, or polyurethane and other chemicals and releases planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions and air pollutants when produced, according to the organization Greenpeace

Emulating the mushroom’s recycling abilities, Biohm has been offering a waste collecting service from feedstock (raw material used for processing or manufacturing another product.)  It then uses the waste to grow and culture the mycelium in its facilities. Currently, the company is  producing enough mycelium for 30 houses per month, but it has plans to scale up and move to a factory to mass produce its mycelium insulations. 

Biohm was chosen as one of the recipients of the 2021 Index Award, a prestigious prize recognizing positive social impact through design.

At a time where climate change is occurring too rapidly, innovation harnessing nature’s adaptive  behaviors is being considered seriously. Biohm is paving the way for this kind of innovation and continuing to take on new environmental challenges with its sustainable products.

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