Can mushroom cladding save us from air pollution?

Walls lined with fungi could capture ambient pollution and clean up the atmosphere in towns and cities. 

A design student at London’s Brunel University is developing an new external wall tile system which he believes can remove dangerous hydrocarbons from the air, reducing the impact of vehicle emissions and the burning of fossil fuels. 

Modular Myco-Hex is a honeycomb cladding filled with an absorbent mix of waste sawdust and fungal spores, made from mycelium – the part of mushrooms most people never see as it remains underground. Fixed to the outside of buildings, the fungi breaks down and absorbs 80% of hydrocarbons, which it transforms into food to fuel its continued growth. 

Inspired by the Netflix documentary, Fantastic Fungi, Thomas Sault’s creation could have a significant impact on air quality in towns and cities, and human health. Hydrocarbons are known carcinogens, and disrupt the natural ability of human skin to detoxify. This can lead to conditions ranging from acne and psoriasis to cancer. 

‘Myco-Hex tiles are a great example of biomimicry,’ said Brunel Design School lecturer, Ayca Dundar. ‘It is using nature to solve a global problem that is also fully sustainable and renewable. 

‘For so many years, humans have worked against nature and have slowly destroyed it,’ Sault added. ‘Instead of working against nature, we need to look to nature and see that it contains the answers to our environmental issues.’ 

In February, a new type of fuel cell was unveiled which could capture 99% of carbon dioxide from the local atmosphere.

Image credit: Brunel Design School 





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