My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: Katharina Unger's Fungi Mutarium Mushroom Grower - How Plastic Munching Mushrooms can be a solution to Plastics in Jamaica

linkbucks

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Katharina Unger's Fungi Mutarium Mushroom Grower - How Plastic Munching Mushrooms can be a solution to Plastics in Jamaica

The problem of the disposal of plastics is a well known one, with plastics taking a long time to bio-degrade even if they are described as biodegradable as this video from DNEWS (Discovery News) YouTube channel about plastic eating worms suggests.


So what if you convert plastic into food? Turns out you can use special mushroom grower called the Fungi Mutarium designed by Austrian designer Katharina Unger to convert plastic into mushrooms as reported back in December 2014 in the article “These pollution-fighting mushrooms eat plastic, and you can eat them”, published December 23, 2014 by Sonali Kohli, Quartz.
 


The research was done by Austrian designer Katharina Unger in partnership with Julia Kaisinger and Utrecht University and published back in December 2014, but it's very relevant today as plastic pollution is on the rise as this video suggests.

Austrian designer Katharina Unger got her inspiration from research done by Yale University in 2012 when they discovered a variety of mushroom (Pestalotiopsis microspora) than could break down polyeurthane. Since then a race has been on to discover other fungi that can feast on hydrocarbons in various forms, from oil to plastics.

Already, researchers have found that a certain species of seaweed, the Dulce Algae seaweed has been discovered by Oregon State University to taste like bacon when fried as reported in my blog article entitled “Oregon State University discover Dulce Seaweed Algae taste like Bacon - How Dulce can solve UNFAO's Meat Crisis in 2025 and also make Beer”.

The latest has been the discovery by researchers at the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Stanford University as reported in the article “Plastic-eating worms may offer solution to mounting waste, researchers discover”, published September 30, 2015 by Rob Jordan, Physorg.


But this previous published developement from the collaboration between Austrian designer Katharina Unger in partnership with Julia Kaisinger and Utrecht University is more practical as it means we can create edible mushrooms from Plastic. so how does Fungi Mutarium mushroom grower actually work?

Katharina Unger Fungi Mutarium - How Plastic munchin' Mushrooms can be a solution to Plastics in Jamaica

Austrian designer Katharina Unger process for growing the Fungi Mutarium is not much different from the use of growing rooms used by NOW (Network of Women for Food Security), a mushroom co-operative located in central and northern Manchester, Jamaica as described in my blog article entitled “NOW expands to capture JA$35 million Jamaican Edible Mushroom - How Jamaican can grow and store Edible Mushrooms”. 

Her equiptment is just a bit more exotic as described in the article “A mini farm that produces food from plastic-eating mushrooms”, published 22 December 2014 by Liz Stinton, Wired. First the Fungi Mutarium Mushroom Grower is itself very space-age looking.
 

The plastic is masticated and zapped with UV light to sterilize it and start the plastic on a process of breaking down so that the Schizophyllum commune and Pleurotus ostreatus can eat it.

The degrade plastic is then placed in Egg-shaped pods filed with agar-agar jelly, which is normally used in laboratories to cultivate bacterium and fungi. The diluted mycelium (roots) of Schizophyllum commune and Pleurotus ostreatus are then place into the Egg-shaped pods called FU's filled with agar-agar jelly so that it can feast on the plastic.

In a few months, the Schizophyllum commune and Pleurotus ostreatus in the FU consume all the plastic, while growing fluffy edible mushroom, filling the Fungi Mutarium Mushroom Grower to capacity.



Admittedly the process is very slow and can only make enough mushrooms for a small family. But with the demand for mushrooms soaring in Developing and First World countries, growing mushrooms from biodegradable and non-biodegradable plastics may gradually be a solution to plastics.

It may also be a way to deal with the problem of excess cooking oil leftover as waste from restaurants in cities across the world as well as in Jamaica, aside from making it into biofuel as described in my blog article entitled “UWI and YCWJ team up to Recycle Waste Cooking Oil - How to make National Bio-Diesel Production from Waste Cooking Oil”. 
 


They are quite safe, as plastic, despite being manmade, is an organic compound, just that it’s molecular structure is too difficult for plants to ingest and convert into food via photosynthesis or other means as fungi like mushrooms can do.

By degrading the plastic into a form that the plants and fungi, can consume, edible mushrooms can be grown. This is potentially a solution to the problem of Plastic pollution and in the process, allowing Jamaica to tap into the US$35 million imported edible mushroom Industry that’s blooming in Jamaica.

Especially when you consider how easy they are to grown and the use of Agricultural towers as described in my blog article entitled “IGES Canada Ltd and Vertical Agricultural Towers - How Vertical Hydroponic Aquaponic Greenhouses can make low cost Organic foods” are used to make the process of growing the mushrooms more efficient.


So edible Mushrooms from plastic, anyone?
Post a Comment