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Scientists produces continuous sheets of mycelium leather

YarnsandFibers News Bureau 2021-07-12 11:58:51 – Finland

Scientists from the Finnish VTT Technical Research Center have successfully demonstrated the continuous production of mycelium leather which is a potential alternative to leather and synthetic leather. The development work has been funded by Business Finland.

This has been made possible because of VTT's technological advancements. The method can be used in industrial roll-to-roll manufacturing. Accessories, footwear, and clothing can be the initial uses for mycelium leather.

Due to resource-intensive procedures and toxic chemicals employed during manufacture, leather, and synthetic leather production has a significant negative environmental effect.

Géza Szilvay, VTT’s senior scientist, said that it has a leathery appearance and feel, and it may be as robust as animal leather. It can also be colored and patterned, and it doesn't require any backing or supporting materials.

Manuel Arias Barra, a research scientist at VTT, said that fungal mycelium is a bio-based raw material that may be processed into leather-like products in a sustainable manner. Due to mycelium cultivation taking place in a flat two-dimensional shape with a restricted size, boosting production volume with present technologies has proven difficult. Their method allows them to circumvent these size constraints.

Growing mycelium in common bioreactors is the basis of VTT's patent-pending technique for creating mycelium leather substitute materials. The advantages of this technique include the ease with which liquid fermentation in bioreactors may be scaled up to commercial proportions and the widespread usage of comparable fermentation technologies in the food, chemical, and pharmaceutical sectors.

Using VTT's pilot equipment, the film-making method developed by VTT enables continuous mycelium leather alternative manufacturing. Consistent quality, a low cost of production, and fewer offcuts are all advantages of this manufacturing process.

The VTT team is looking into accessories, footwear, and garment applications. Researchers are now using bio-based methods to increase rip strength and abrasion resistance. The work done at VTT will help to speed up the commercial availability of mycelium leather substitutes.

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