Study to explore if fungi can become new sustainable building material with computational capabilities

Media Relations Team, 05 October 2022

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Close up of a white toadstool in a field with several more behind.

A new international research project will examine how living fungi, in collaboration with bacteria, can produce sustainable materials with computational capabilities in the future.

UWE Bristol’s Professor Andrew Adamatzky is the principal investigator on the €4 million (£3.49m) study, which has been funded by the EU Commission.

The project will investigate engineered living materials (ELMs) - materials composed of living cells that maintain biological activity within use-case scenarios. The project will investigate how ELMs could become sustainable building materials. The project will also investigate the novel functionalities of these materials such as their inherent intelligent, adaptive and self-healing properties.

The research project is being led by Phil Ayres, Professor of Biohybrid Architecture at the Royal Danish Academy – Architecture, Design and Conservation.

Professor Ayres said: “In the coming decades, it is projected that we will have a global shortage of key resources and materials, despite forecasts of a near doubling of material demand up to 2060. This will not only affect the expanding construction sector, but all sectors immensely. Our aim is that the results of the research can be of decisive importance in relation to creating new material streams and production methods with biological, intelligent materials for the construction industry and beyond, which can make material production more resource-saving and environmentally friendly.”

The field of ELMs is still in its infancy but it promises radical and disruptive alternatives to current methods of material production, fitting within a broader shift towards biofabrication. The project will address an existing development gap in the field by developing a portfolio of mycelium-based ELMs composed from a co-cultivation process using fungi and a strain of bacteria.

Other universities participating in the four year study are Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Ghent University, Universiteit Utrecht and the University of Oslo.

The EU Commission selected 39 new projects for funding under its 2021 EIC Pathfinder call for cutting edge research projects to achieve breakthroughs in five strategic areas.

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