Two recent college grads make insulation using mushroom spores

Let’s play a word game: we say “college students” and “mushrooms,” you say the first thing that comes to mind. OK, now get ready to eat your words, because two recent Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute grads are having a different kind of fun with their fungi. Eben Bayer and Gavin McIntyre used mushroom spores to create a new kind of eco-insulation. Dubbed Greensulate, the organic product contains water, flour, oyster mushroom spores, and perlite, a mineral blend common in potting soil. The pair, who have applied for grants and formed a company called Ecovative Design, admit there’s still some fine-tuning to be done; for one thing, says McIntyre, “We’ve been growing the material under our beds.” Still, those involved in the project have high hopes. “I think it has a lot of potential, and it could make a big difference in people’s lives,” says RPI Professor Burt Swersy. “It’s sustainable and enviro-friendly, it’s not based on petrochemicals, and [it] doesn’t require much energy or cost to make.”