Green Island, NY, United States
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Grant
Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: | Award Amount: 961.37K | Year: 2011

This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II project seeks to further develop, and demonstrate at scale, a biological disinfection process that has exhibited superior microbial inactivation to steam pasteurization at a lower cost. This process leverages dilute concentrations (0.5-0.875% by volume) of plant-derived phenols and aldehydes to inactivate lower level fungi and bacteria found on agricultural byproducts (seed husks and hulls). The application focus for this demonstration is a novel material technology that converts lignocellulosic waste into a high performance, low cost replacement for synthetics (plastics and foams) using a filamentous fungus. This biological disinfection process can reduce process energy consumption by 83% and system capital expense by upwards of 50%. This project will fully quantify the efficacy of this disinfection process at scale (production volumes) as well as analyze the integration of this technique into a mycological material production facility that is presently addressing the protective packaging industry. Batch and continuous systems will be explored, and a comprehensive economic model will be developed based on the results. The mycological materials that are produced under this demonstration will be compared with materials fabricated with the existing pasteurization system, and samples will be evaluated by customers to ensure product adoption.

High-embodied energy disinfection processes, autoclave sterilization or pasteurization, are ubiquitous within industries such as agriculture, food processing, and biotechnology. These methodologies are implemented to reduce or remove background bioburden (bacteria, yeast, mold) that can be detrimental to downstream processes due to contamination. Mycological materials production represents such a process since raw material contamination results in product loss and added labor. The plant essential oil (PEO) disinfection technique was proven under the Phase I research to offer a comparable process time to steam pasteurization and superior disinfection efficacy; thus this technology could serve as a drop-in replacement in some industrial applications. This process minimizes capital equipment and operations costs due a reduction in system complexity and energy consumption. In regards to the production of mycological products, this disinfection process bolsters the process robustness by extending contaminate inactivation periods which promotes rapid mycelium colonization or a reduction in incubation time. Therefore new market opportunities for mycological materials can be addressed while further supporting the business case for regional manufacturing using domestic agricultural waste as raw materials. Finally, the benefits obtained from this novel disinfection process permit an accelerated deployment and development of turnkey production systems to displace synthetic materials.


Grant
Agency: Department of Agriculture | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 498.54K | Year: 2015

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.


Grant
Agency: National Science Foundation | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 401.39K | Year: 2011

This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II project seeks to further develop, and demonstrate at scale, a biological disinfection process that has exhibited superior microbial inactivation to steam pasteurization at a lower cost. This process leverages dilute concentrations (0.5-0.875% by volume) of plant-derived phenols and aldehydes to inactivate lower level fungi and bacteria found on agricultural byproducts (seed husks and hulls). The application focus for this demonstration is a novel material technology that converts lignocellulosic waste into a high performance, low cost replacement for synthetics (plastics and foams) using a filamentous fungus. This biological disinfection process can reduce process energy consumption by 83% and system capital expense by upwards of 50%. This project will fully quantify the efficacy of this disinfection process at scale (production volumes) as well as analyze the integration of this technique into a mycological material production facility that is presently addressing the protective packaging industry. Batch and continuous systems will be explored, and a comprehensive economic model will be developed based on the results. The mycological materials that are produced under this demonstration will be compared with materials fabricated with the existing pasteurization system, and samples will be evaluated by customers to ensure product adoption. High-embodied energy disinfection processes, autoclave sterilization or pasteurization, are ubiquitous within industries such as agriculture, food processing, and biotechnology. These methodologies are implemented to reduce or remove background bioburden (bacteria, yeast, mold) that can be detrimental to downstream processes due to contamination. Mycological materials production represents such a process since raw material contamination results in product loss and added labor. The plant essential oil (PEO) disinfection technique was proven under the Phase I research to offer a comparable process time to steam pasteurization and superior disinfection efficacy; thus this technology could serve as a drop-in replacement in some industrial applications. This process minimizes capital equipment and operations costs due a reduction in system complexity and energy consumption. In regards to the production of mycological products, this disinfection process bolsters the process robustness by extending contaminate inactivation periods which promotes rapid mycelium colonization or a reduction in incubation time. Therefore new market opportunities for mycological materials can be addressed while further supporting the business case for regional manufacturing using domestic agricultural waste as raw materials. Finally, the benefits obtained from this novel disinfection process permit an accelerated deployment and development of turnkey production systems to displace synthetic materials.


Grant
Agency: Department of Agriculture | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 100.00K | Year: 2014

Soilless growth mediums widely used throughout the horticultural industry are either synthetic in origin, or require synthetic chemicals and energy-intensive processing. Ecovative & #39;s biomaterial consists of a self-assembling moldable mass of fungal mycelium, which acts as a biological resin that achieves cohesion to domestic agricultural lignocellulosic waste for the growth of a soilless growth medium. Fungal soilless growth 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.The proposed research will pursue objectives dedicated to examining the material and chemical characteristics of the medium to best support seed germination and growth. The final objective will determine the biodegradability of the biocomposite. All samples will be tested against three industry standard products, via American standards for materials properties. The composites will be tested in real-world scenarios, supporting the growth of three of the most popular seed varieties in greenhouse/hydroponic conditions. Ecovative biologists will monitor and observe every step of the growth and treatment process.The goal of developing the absorbent mycological composite technology is to provide a new technology that: enhances food production by developing an improved and sustainable production system, and provides a green alternative to the current synthetic materials on the market. This biotechnology gives American agriculture a value-add product for their waste streams, it reduces their dependence on foreign oil, and provides the industry with a biotechnology product that they can export to support agriculture the world over, continuing to give the sector a positive trade balance in the US economy. Ecovative & #39;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. Pending successful results, the Phase I development will directly inform the material samples supplied to a leader in the agricultural industry for pilot trials. This project will be deemed successful if it provides a biotechnology that is low-cost, high-performance, and compostable.


Grant
Agency: Department of Agriculture | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 100.00K | Year: 2014

Ecovative & #39;s vision is to grow sustainable products that directly replace the toxic plastics that poison our planet. The use and handling of phenol-formaldehyde foams and resins in the floricultural industry have documented environmental health and safety concerns. Although the physical performance of phenol formaldehyde foams is adequate for floricultural arrangements, there are significant legislative drivers for safer commercial materials to mitigate the emission of volatile organic compounds. Ecovative & #39;s adaptive technology uses regional agricultural byproducts to develop better approaches which focus on climate change through the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions (VOC, phenols, formaldehyde, and alkane agents) by uniting agricultural material supply with customer facing horticultural products.Current Ecovative materials offer analogous physical characteristics in comparison to plastic foams, however floral foams require the additional feature of hygroscopy, enabling them to attract and hold water molecules from the surrounding environment.Further progress in meeting material metrics is presented in this proposal for development and large scale manufacture of the fungal post-growth treatment for water absorption, optimization of substrates to enhance floral stem penetrability, and physical support. Successful implementation of the proposed work plan offers a path towards the displacement of traditional floral foams.Achieving the technical objectives in this proposal will improve performance ofEcovative & #39;s absorbent biocomposite, comparable to traditional foams, including: fracture, density, porosity, water retention, and microbial resistance. The proposed research offersan alternative, renewable product that displaces unsustainable traditional foams, but does so at a comparable cost and with a reduced environmental footprint. The Phase I includesEcovative materials grown in-house and tested according to the collaborating industry leader, soliciting product feedback from the collaborating industry leader, and complying with ASTM standards and methods to reach the mechanical and biological requirements and market expectations.Completion of this project plan provides technical feasibility and validation towards four critical milestones required to penetrate the Floral Foam material market: (1) meeting the mechanical (water uptake, strength: weight, stem hold capability) and cost metrics under the Phase I work plan; (2) reaching floral life and antimicrobial metrics set by customer expectations; (3) scaling the functionalization process economically under a Phase II work plan; and (4) demonstrating feasibility in a potential customer & #39;s application (a current manufacturer, and a nationwide floral arrangement distributor). Realization of these milestones provides the foundation for the implementation of a Phase II effort. Ecovative anticipates using Phase I data to develop a Phase II scale-up procedure for collaboration with a floral foam manufacturer & #39;s network of OH and NY florists, and a current nationwide floral arrangement distributor to begin pilot production of Ecovative floral foams. These partnerships will establish a route to deliver the aforementioned environmental, health, and economic benefits throughout the U.S. floral market.This adaptation of Ecovative & #39;s low-energy biotechnology gives American agriculture a value-add product from domestic waste streams, it reduces their dependence on foreign oil, and provides the industry with a biotechnology product for export, continuing to deliver positive trade balance in the US economy. The lignocellulosic waste from American agriculture is used as the main constituent in this floral foam product, enabling agricultural producers and natural resource managers the opportunity to produce a biotechnological product within their own communities as per Ecovative & #39;s commercialization principles.


Grant
Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: SMALL BUSINESS PHASE II | Award Amount: 1.05M | Year: 2012

This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II project seeks to further quantify the mechanical performance of mycological bio-composites that address the automotive and structural core industries, while concurrently scaling and demonstrating material production. The engineered composites market continues to grow steadily because of the high strength-to-weight and stiffness-to-weight ratios of these systems, as compared to conventional engineering materials. Engineered woods are ubiquitous in the construction and furniture industries, but due to domestic indoor air quality regulations (Toxic Substances Control Act), these materials are being phased out or are forced to use expensive formaldehyde-free adhesives. Similarly, the automotive industry is under regulatory pressure in Europe to find alternatives to fire-retardant foams that cannot be recycled due to inorganic filling agents. The technical results from the Phase I effort have demonstrated bio-composite materials which can compete both economically, and on mechanical performance, with the aforementioned competitors, while meeting these legislative demands. A preliminary cost analysis based on the process economics of our existing production facilities projects retail costs 45% and 35% below the current state-of-the-art in the automotive and furniture industries, respectively. We will work with key industry partners to meet performance metrics and demonstrate quality pilot production.

The broader impact/commercial potential of this project would be a customizable bio-composite for a broad range of markets, including automotive, transportation, architectural, furniture, sports, and recreation. These materials are truly sustainable, since both the laminates and cores used in the sandwich structure consist of renewable materials. They also require significantly less energy to make than other biocompatible composites, because the material is grown instead of synthesized, and the material is completely compostable at the end of life. The outcome of the proposed development and demonstration will ensure that the bio-composite properties meet the requirements for the target markets. Furthermore, over the course of this grant, and in cooperation with Rensselaer and Union College, we will demonstrate and scale the best manufacturing processes to a pilot stage capable of manufacturing high volumes of quality product. Since these materials leverage regional lignocellulosic byproducts from domestic agriculture and industry, a regional manufacturing model is presently being pursued to reduce transportation and feedstock costs. This will not only bring additional value to U.S. agricultural markets, but will spur rural economic development through domestic manufacturing. Finally, these advanced biological materials represent a new paradigm in manufacturing, offering safe, biodegradable alternatives to traditional petroleum-based alternatives.


Grant
Agency: Environmental Protection Agency | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 80.00K | Year: 2013

The use of plastic (polyethylene, Polypropylene, polyurethane and poly lactic acid) has grown and continues to grow steadily because of the materials’ high strength-to-weigh ratios, low cost, and ease of molding as compared to conventional natural materials. Unfortunately, almost all commercial plastics are notoriously unsustainable due to fossil fuel-based constituents, the wasteful and energy-intensive manufacturing processes used, and thedifficulty or inability to compost at the end of life. Academic and industrial researchers have investigated recycling petroleum-based polymers, incorporating bio-derived polymers to reduce intake of petroleum, and pure biopolymers (cellulosic plastic, PH) to produce more biocompatible plastic withvarying degrees of success, but all attempts have still fallen short of an ideal ‘bio-plastic’. §The proposed concept is to demonstrate an ideal bio-plastic by using mycelium as the polymer, resin, or structural matrix. Preliminary studies have shown basidiomycete stipe tissue offers similar mechanical properties as thermo set, unreinforced polyurethane and balsawood. This renewable, compostable material usually grows in the form of a fruiting body, which is inappropriate to use at a commercial scale due to the long production lead times. This grant proposes to research a process allowing for the growth of vegetative mycelium tissue into any desired shape. First, sterile tissue or a suspension of cells would be grown, homogenized, strained, and Pressed or injected into the desired shape. This material would then be incubated in specific environmental conditions or supplemented with natural materials to induce the desired hyphal (cellular) structure pertaining to the final preferred mechanical properties. Then the material would be heated to inactivate growth, producing a grown, rapidly renewable (5 – 10 days), biopolymer. §The basic approach to this Phase I SBIRis to find the most viable fungal tissue morphology, the optimal growth conditions and supplements (with nutrition of chemical inducers), and potential post processing techniques through extensive experimentation and statistical analysis. The unique and potentially transformative concept of directly mycological polymers can be found nowhere commercially or in the literature. Ecovative, and award-winning start-up company, will leverage its expertise and current intellectual property in mycelium-based materials during this undertaking. Mycelium polymers could fit a broad range of markets including: automotive, transportation, biomedical, sports, and consumer goods. These materials are truly sustainable since the entire structure consists of renewable materials that require significantly less energy to make because the materials are grown, or self assembled, instead of synthesized. The outcome of the proposed research will be a basic understanding of the obtainable materials properties and how to adjust there properties for particular markets. If successful with the mycelium polymers, Ecovative will be able to enter a very high-volume manufacture market the sorely needs more sustainable innovations.


Grant
Agency: National Science Foundation | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 465.60K | Year: 2012

This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II project seeks to further quantify the mechanical performance of mycological bio-composites that address the automotive and structural core industries, while concurrently scaling and demonstrating material production. The engineered composites market continues to grow steadily because of the high strength-to-weight and stiffness-to-weight ratios of these systems, as compared to conventional engineering materials. Engineered woods are ubiquitous in the construction and furniture industries, but due to domestic indoor air quality regulations (Toxic Substances Control Act), these materials are being phased out or are forced to use expensive formaldehyde-free adhesives. Similarly, the automotive industry is under regulatory pressure in Europe to find alternatives to fire-retardant foams that cannot be recycled due to inorganic filling agents. The technical results from the Phase I effort have demonstrated bio-composite materials which can compete both economically, and on mechanical performance, with the aforementioned competitors, while meeting these legislative demands. A preliminary cost analysis based on the process economics of our existing production facilities projects retail costs 45% and 35% below the current state-of-the-art in the automotive and furniture industries, respectively. We will work with key industry partners to meet performance metrics and demonstrate quality pilot production. The broader impact/commercial potential of this project would be a customizable bio-composite for a broad range of markets, including automotive, transportation, architectural, furniture, sports, and recreation. These materials are truly sustainable, since both the laminates and cores used in the sandwich structure consist of renewable materials. They also require significantly less energy to make than other biocompatible composites, because the material is grown instead of synthesized, and the material is completely compostable at the end of life. The outcome of the proposed development and demonstration will ensure that the bio-composite properties meet the requirements for the target markets. Furthermore, over the course of this grant, and in cooperation with Rensselaer and Union College, we will demonstrate and scale the best manufacturing processes to a pilot stage capable of manufacturing high volumes of quality product. Since these materials leverage regional lignocellulosic byproducts from domestic agriculture and industry, a regional manufacturing model is presently being pursued to reduce transportation and feedstock costs. This will not only bring additional value to U.S. agricultural markets, but will spur rural economic development through domestic manufacturing. Finally, these advanced biological materials represent a new paradigm in manufacturing, offering safe, biodegradable alternatives to traditional petroleum-based alternatives.


Grant
Agency: Environmental Protection Agency | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 295.58K | Year: 2014

Plastics and petroleum-based foams are a conventional solution for the material needs of many industries. Today these non-biodegradable, fossil fuel derived products compose 13 percent of all municipal solid waste streams, as opposed to 1 percent in 1960. This waste stream is associated with a number of environmental concerns, including greenhouse gas generation from incineration, as well as land and water contamination through land filling. In addition, this waste stream has human health implications, as studies have shown bioaccumulation of toxins in the body. The constituents of these toxins are primarily used to produce plastics, and their accumulation results in negative effects on health and reproduction. Finally, the market costs for plastics are subject to the increasingly limited and expensive petroleum supply.Under the Phase I initiative, Ecovative developed a new material manufacturing process that harnesses fungi?s tendency to fill a void space with a homogenous mycological biopolymer. This research resulted in a 100 percent bio-based and home compostable material that is completely composed of fungal mycelium (the vegetative tissue of a fungus) and has elastomeric properties similar to the commonly used foam ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA). The proposed Phase II initiative seeks to continue scaled development of this cost-competitive process for producing a high-performance replacement for expanded plastics, which will allow for commercialization of the product. This research will be focused around cost reduction, scaled manufacturing and pilot production of the mycological polymer. Ecovative, an award-winning sustainable materials company, will leverage its expertise and current intellectual property in mycelium-based materials during this undertaking. Ecovative has scaled previous technologyand proven the economics of the mushroom material business by commercializing the MycoFoamTM platform in the protective packaging industry through a licensing partnership. The proposed mycological material to be scaled in the Phase II initiative is poised to replace EVA and expanded foams not addressable via the MycoFoamTM platform technology, as it exists today. There is industry demand for alternatives to EVA as shoe midsoles and baby play mats, as shown by letters of support. These applications will serve as a point of entry into commercial implementation of this new material while leveraging Ecovative?s pilot facility for scaled production of the mycological biopolymer. The outcome of this research will be a novel bio-product, as well as a commercial platform for the proposed bio-product to transform material production, use and disposal in numerous high-volume industries that wouldotherwise consume significant amounts of plastic.


Patent
Ecovative Design, LLC | Date: 2016-09-15

The composite material is comprised of a substrate of discrete particles and a network of interconnected mycelia cells bonding the discrete particles together. The composite material is made by inoculating a substrate of discrete particles and a nutrient material with a preselected fungus. The fungus digests the nutrient material over a period of time sufficient to grow hyphae and to allow the hyphae to form a network of interconnected mycelia cells through and around the discrete particles thereby bonding the discrete particles together to form a self-supporting composite material.

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