Denim waste, mycelium

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Denim waste, mycelium

The Pure Hyphae Project

The fashion industry produces over 100 billion garments per year, of which 60% are plastic based and 85% will end up in a dump before the end of the year. Considering that various micro and macro-organisms, such as fungi and more specifically their mycelium, are capable of biodegrading the main components of textile (cellulose and more complex plastic molecules) an opportunity to rethink the linearity of the textile industry emerges. Beyond breaking down waste products, the mycelium hyphae network can produce mycelium-based materials, including leather-like materials, adoptable in the fashion industry.

This project investigates ways to produce flexible mycelium materials through the biodegradation of various combinations of denim textile waste, synthetic textile waste, food waste and spent coffee grounds. The mycelium used was from the Pleurotus ostreatus (oyster) fungi. The results show that P. ostreatus (oyster) mycelium grows on all the combinations of food waste (vegetable peels and coffee grounds) with textile waste (synthetic textile and denim textile) and even grows on denim textile waste only. However, the mycelium did not entirely degrade the fibres but only partially digested it, leading to a leather-like composite made of the mycelium and the remainder of its substrate. Provided the soft nature of the substrate, the textile waste and food waste mycelium composite is also malleable, and therefore interesting for further textile applications.

A protocol for post-processing of the flexible composite material using low energy and natural components (heat, water, glycerol, and beeswax) was created to make a composite leather-like fungal material. The whole process of partial biodegradation of textile and food waste mixes, followed by post-processing, is thus a sustainable process. It enables a circular way of treating textiles, therefore, closing the loop of the current linear model, offering an opportunity to get rid of poorly recycled waste and reducing the associated environmental impacts.

Additional information

Textile waste is shredded and mixed with grounded coffee waste, humidified, put in a petri dish and sterilised in an autoclave. Once sterilised, the mix is inoculated with mycelium and put to grow in an incubator at 30°C, high humidity. Once the mycelium has colonised the entire substrate, it can be post-processed into a composite material. Composite is heat pressed, plasticised in a glycerol bath and coated with wax.

Text submitted by the maker

Ingredient list

Denim textile waste, coffee ground, glycerol, mycelium, wax, water, vegetable peel (optional)

Credits

Fabricademy Barcelona, FabLab BCN, Institute of Advanced Arquitecture of Catalunya

Photo credits

Annah-Ololade Sangosanya