Environmental pollution and scarcity of natural resources lead to an increased interest in developing more sustainable materials. For example, the traditional construction industry, which is largely based on the extraction of fossil fuels and raw materials, is called into question. A solution can be found in biologically augmented materials that are made by growing mycelium-forming fungal microorganisms on natural fibres rich in cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin. In this way, organic waste streams, such as agricultural waste, are valorised while creating a material that is biodegradable at the end of its life cycle – a process that fits in the spirit of circular economy. Mycelium-based materials have properties that are promising for a wide range of applications, including the use as construction materials. Despite this promise, the applicability and the practicality of these materials are largely unexplored and moreover, individual studies use a wide range of different experimental approaches and non-standardized procedures. In this review, we critically evaluate existing data on the composition of mycelium-based materials and process variables with the aim of providing a comprehensive framework of the production process. The framework illustrates the many input factors during the production that have an impact on the final characteristics of the material, and the unique potential to deploy more tuneable levels in the fabrications process that can serve to prototype a diversity of new unprecedented applications. Furthermore, we determine the applicability of existing data and identify knowledge gaps. This framework is valuable in identifying standardized approaches for future studies and in informing the design and process of new applications of mycelium-based materials.
- Mycelium-based composites fungi
- Lignocellulosic fibres
- Natural fibre reinforcement
- Mechanical characteristics
- Manufacturing variables