Dec 1, 2022
Can you say “Ganoderma lucidum” out loud? It’s not the words of a magic spell — but it could have a big impact. It’s a species of mushroom. Scientists found that it forms a skin. They showed the skin could be a biodegradable replacement for an important part in electronic devices.
A research team in Austria is focused on getting rid of electronic waste (e-waste). That led them to Ganoderma lucidum. They found that this fungus forms a mycelium skin. When dried, the skin is paper-thin, flexible, and a good insulator. It can handle temperatures higher than 290 degrees Fahrenheit. These qualities set it apart from other biodegradable materials. They make the skin a good substrate, the researchers found.
In electronics, a substrate is the base of a circuit inside things like batteries and computer chips. A substrate insulates and cools the metals on top of it. It’s usually made from plastics and thrown out after use. This adds to the world’s 55 million tons of annual e-waste. Only 20% of it is formally recycled, according to a 2019 report co-authored by the United Nations. E-waste is on track to hit 132 million annual tons by 2050, says the same report.
The mushroom skin substrate lasts a long time when kept dry. However, it breaks down in a compost pile in two weeks or less.
“Most importantly,” one of the study's co-authors told CNN, “it can simply be grown from waste wood.” It doesn't cost a lot of money to make. The process doesn't use a lot of energy, either.
Photo by Nina Filippova courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
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