Your next car might have fungus-based, biodegradable car bumpers, doors, and dashboards.
Mushrooms. They're great for pasta sauce, vision quests, and... car parts? Maybe. Ecovative Design, a Green Island, New York-based start-up, just announced a deal with Ford to develop a fungus-based, biodegradable material to be used for car bumpers, doors, and dashboards.
Ecovative Design has been developing mushroom-based materials since its founding in 2007. It uses the fungus root structures called mycelium to bind agricultural by-products such as corn and oat husks together. The result is a solid, foam-like material that the company has already marketed for packaging (the furniture company Steelcase is Ecovative's biggest client) and home insulation.
If Ecovative can grow their material to be uniform enough to satisfy safety requirements of the car industry, it could replace petroleum-based plastics that are currently used in cars. And if you get in a fender-bender with this stuff, you can just bury the old bumper. The mushroom foam decomposes in one month in soil.