Crushed corn stalk, sawdust and coconut fiber are some of the waste from the farm industry that are useful to create biomaterials that can be use in construction and shipment industry. All this made by a combination of several waste of raw material with mycelium -- which is the root of the fungus -- element that applies in a structure, which feeds of different materials, it eventually grows a natural and solid polymer very similar to plastic.
The development made by the Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León is affordable, efficient and sustainable.
The obtained polymer got its mechanical properties according to the element that feeds the mycelium, for example if it is fed by sorghum and grass, the material grows strong and can supports heavy loads but if eats coconut fiber and sawdust it doesn't burn, however, if the food is paperboard pulp, bermuda grass and a few sawdust, it will absorb the atmosphere humidity, it means, the material fits to the production needs. "What we do is to replicate a process found in nature and synthetize it for the industry" said Mauricio Franco, student in the Faculty of Mechanical and Electrical Engineering in UANL.
Some of the products that can be created with these biomaterial are solar panels -- they are the devices most profitables because they're sheets -- tables, floorboards similars to gypsum board with thermal properties, also they can create molds for packaging electronics or temporary articles, it is use as it were styrofoam. However, it could make more complex structures too like bycicles, they're not completely made of mycelium but largely created with the biomaterial, said the UANL's student.
Also the researcher emphatizes in the high profitability of generating these products because to create them requires organic waste coming from farm industries and nobody takes them, so the biomaterials can be created with a low budget, the only cost is the incubation period of the fungus, to produce these materials implies an internal rate of return of the 192 per cent, which is very efficient, sustainable and helps promote a culture of ecology.
Currently these biomaterials are made in a minor scale in the Faculty of Biology in UANL, nevertheless they're looking to rent a bigger space and better equipment for a major production, said the student.
Dr. Efrén Robledo Leal, researcher in mycology in the Faculty of Biology of UANL who innovated the material thanks to his work in the investigation and application of the fungus mycelium. Afterwards, the students Dominik Reyes Nieto, graduate of Faculty of Biological Sciences and current-students Mauricio Franco Herrada and Carlos Muñoz Bernal, both from the Faculty of Mechanical and Electrical Engineering, joined the team project to increase the research to keep innovating and making the industrial application of the biomaterials.
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