Development of Scaled Manufacturing for Mycological Soilless Growth Media

Period of Performance: 08/20/2015 - 12/31/2015

$499K

Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Ecovative Design LLC
70 COHOES AVE Array
Troy, NY 12183
Firm POC
Principal Investigator

Abstract

Soilless growth mediums widely used throughout the horticultural industry are either synthetic in origin, or require synthetic chemicals and energy-intensive processing. Ecovative's biomaterial aims to displace these non-renewable, energy-intensive, materials using its product consisting of a self-assembling, moldable mass of fungal mycelium. Mycelium act as a biological resin, binding together domestic agricultural lignocellulosic waste, providing the foundation of a 100% bio-based, home biodegradable soilless growth medium. Fungal soilless grow medium has three distinct competitive advantages over the current state of the art (SOTA): it is low cost, uses waste streams as its primary inputs, and is completely biodegradable after use.Having successfully completed a Phase I grant examining the material characteristics of the medium, (optimal substrate(s), density, and particle size) we are now able to address scaling this technology. Recent testing indicated that the product is within reach of all key metrics, enabling this technology as market-ready. Scaled manufacturing of this product will necessitate constructing custom equipment to facilitate rapid and reproducible handling and treatment of each unit sold. In addition, we will assess and finalize the optimization of all relevant growth and post treatment parameters for production implementation. Achieving these technical objectives will guarantee that we are bringing a product to market a product that maximizes performance while minimizing cost and environmental impact.The absorbent mycological composite technology aims to provide a new technology that enhances food production by developing an improved, and sustainable production system through a biological manufacturing technology as well as providing a green alternative to the current synthetic materials in agricultural use. This biotechnology gives American agriculture a value-add product for current domestic waste streams, it reduces their dependence on foreign oil, and provides the industry with a biotechnology product that can be exported to support global agriculture, continuing to give the sector a positive trade balance in the US economy. Ecovative's biomaterial is experiencing market pull from international agricultural firms, which could further exports of US agricultural byproducts that are transformed in this revolutionary manufacturing process. Development completed in Phase I will directly inform the material samples supplied to a collaborating leader in the agricultural industry for pilot trials. The success of this project will derive from Ecovative's capacity to leverage its low embodied energy manufacturing, and mycelium-based intellectual property portfolio and expertise in commercializing low-cost, high-performance, compostable biomaterials.