redhouse studio is making a mobile machine that recycles old buildings

January 25, 2018 by  
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Did you know that buildings are responsible for 39 percent of the United States’ carbon emissions? Architect Chris Maurer of redhouse studio told Inhabitat he loves being an architect, but finds it difficult to reconcile that figure. To help lighten the construction industry’s footprint, Maurer is teaming up with NASA , MIT , and the University of Akron to create the Biocycler: a mobile machine that literally recycles old buildings. The machine will use living organisms, not glue, to bind construction waste into durable bricks that can be used to build brand new structures. Read on for a closer look at this groundbreaking project. Maurer was inspired to create the Biocycler in part through his experience at demolition sites throughout Cleveland. “We do many projects that are adaptive reuse to preserve old buildings, but even then the demolition waste can be quite extensive,” he said. During a design/re-build project at Kent State University, the team was dismayed at how much waste their preservation project produced. “We dropped the material ourselves at the landfill ,” Maurer said. “It was hard to do (it was hard to see it all go to waste) but there was no economically feasible way to use the materials.” Related: New self-healing concrete uses fungus to fix cracks The Biocycler could change all that. redhouse plans to experiment with fungal mycelium and calcite-producing microbes as building and binding materials in the Biocycler. Maurer explains that “A symbiosis of the microbes and fungi can be made to feed each other and [they] are working towards using the microbes as bio-signals to tell us things about the structure and air-quality within it.” The incorporation of fruiting fungus (i.e. mushrooms) could serve the additional purpose of food production. “Where food security is an issue, we are looking to make mushroom production the main activity and the bio-materials the secondary output,” he said. redhouse studio is currently running a Kickstarter campaign to fund the construction of a proof of concept. “Truth be told, we’re already recycling buildings, or at least materials,” said Maurer. “The kickstarter will lead to a mobile unit to put these processes on display and get closer to building entire structures out of the waste.” redhouse has already constructed and tested bricks and panels from recycled materials, as well as some model prototypes, and hopes to complete a full-size structure in 2018. Related: Church built for $35k stays naturally cool in Malawi Prior to starting the Cleveland-based studio in 2014, Maurer served as director for studioMDA in Malawi and MASS Design Group in Rwanda, where he came to more fully understand the value and potential of sustainable design. “[In Africa], we needed to innovate with limited resources,” said Maurer. Related: This company wants to turn food waste into building materials — here’s how redhouse has worked for commercial clients, such as the Hulett Hotel in Cleveland , while also developing humanitarian design projects, such as the Bioshelter , a prefabricated home that mitigates waste while providing food security and economic opportunity through crops grown on-site. As with much of the studio’s work, the Bioshelter was conceived to be as self-sustaining as possible. “We are constantly looking for new resource loops, finding benefits to waste streams,” he said. Change can sometimes be uncomfortable for the mainstream consumer, particularly if it includes the words “fungus” and “microbe.” Nonetheless, Maurer believes the time has come for fresh, green solutions to global problems. “Think about the pro-biotic craze right now,” he said. “People are waking up to the fact that antibiotic medicines and sanitizers can be dangerous, and that you want the right kinds of microbes around.” Similarly, biological building materials can also be pro-biotic. “There are many organisms that can be used in bio-materials that naturally battle pathogens,” he said. “We want them on our team.” Related: These amazing zero-waste buildings were grown from mushrooms To complete a project as ambitious as the Biocycler, collaboration is key. “ Architecture is by nature collaborative,” said Maurer. “Through our network in biomimicry, we’ve learned the advantages of working with biologists in addition to engineers.” redhouse is collaborating with scientists at NASA and MIT to create the Biocycler, which may only be the beginning of a revolution in smart, living building materials. “When you consider all the possibilities of the materials – bio-luminescence, radiation protection, self cleaning, pathogen protection, etc, it sounds sci-fi, but we’re not that far out from some of these features,” he said. With a Biocycler proof of concept in action, redhouse will have taken us another step further into this sustainable, bio-future. + The Biocycler on Kickstarter + redhouse studio Images via Keith Hayes/redhouse studio

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redhouse studio is making a mobile machine that recycles old buildings

Researchers discover a new family of viruses swimming in the ocean

January 25, 2018 by  
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Scientists at MIT and Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York have identified a new family of ocean-dwelling viruses that can’t be detected using standard lab tests. Despite their previously hidden existence, these tail-less viruses are quite common. Scientists suspect they may be abundant everywhere. “We don’t think it’s ocean-specific at all,” MIT environmental microbiologist and study leader Martin Polz told ScienceAlert . The discovery adds a key missing piece to our understanding of viral ecosystems and may lead to developments in human health, medicine, and bio-sciences. The most common variety of viruses on Earth are double-stranded DNA (dsDNA) viruses, the most well-known of which is the Caudovirales order, also known as the “tailed” viruses. The newly discovered tail-less viruses were first identified in a new study published in the journal Nature , in which scientists incubated the viruses from seawater collected along the coast of Massachusetts and sequenced their DNA . The scientists have dubbed the tail-less viruses  Autolykiviridae, in honor of Autolykos (“the wolf itself”), a character in Greek mythology known for its ability to avoid detection and capture. Related: Scientists harness tobacco plants to produce polio vaccine Autolykiviridae viruses have shorter genomes than tailed viruses and are notably more aggressive in their predation of bacteria , playing a major consumer role in microscopic ecosystems. “They caused about 40 percent of the bacterial killing observed, despite comprising just 10 percent of the viruses that we isolated,” study co-author and microbiologist Libusha Kelly told ScienceAlert . Now that a utolykiviridae have been identified, scientists have determined their presence in human digestive systems. “We’ve found related viral sequences in the [human] gut microbiome,” said Kelly , “but we don’t yet know how they influence microbial communities in the gut or how important they are for health.” While more research is necessary and forthcoming, this discovery alone is significant. “In a practical sense, it also shows how we need to alter some commonly used methods in order to capture these kinds of viruses for various studies,” Jed Fuhrman, a marine biologist at University of Southern California unaffiliated with the study, told ScienceAlert . “I’d say it is an important advance in the field.” Via ScienceAlert Images via Kaufmann et al. and Depositphotos

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Researchers discover a new family of viruses swimming in the ocean

Researchers develop self-healing concrete powered by fungus

January 19, 2018 by  
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Scientists at Binghamton University have developed the first application of fungi in self-healing concrete. In a paper recently published in the journal Construction and Building Materials , Binghamton University assistant professor Congrui Jin and her team outline the ways in which a special species of fungi,  Trichoderma reesei , may act as a sealing agent when mixed with concrete . “This idea was originally inspired by the miraculous ability of the human body to heal itself of cuts, bruises and broken bones,” said Jin in an interview at Binghampton . “For the damaged skins and tissues, the host will take in nutrients that can produce new substitutes to heal the damaged parts.” Jin and her team’s focus on concrete could not be more topical. In the United States , a crisis fueled by historic underinvestment in infrastructure has resulted in increasingly dangerous roads, bridges, and highways. While Washington struggles to fund the federal government and state governments lack the resources to tackle this multi-trillion dollar problem, citizens still want something to be done before a major collapse occurs. “Without proper treatment, cracks tend to progress further and eventually require costly repair,” said Jin . “If micro-cracks expand and reach the steel reinforcement, not only the concrete will be attacked, but also the reinforcement will be corroded, as it is exposed to water, oxygen, possibly CO2 and chlorides, leading to structural failure.” Related: How fungi made Earth’s atmosphere livable – new study If concrete were easier to repair, the cost of infrastructure maintenance would likely decrease. This is where T. reesei steps in. The fungus is mixed with concrete and lies dormant until the first crack in newly laid concrete appears. As water and oxygen permeate the crack, fungal spores will germinate, expand, and create calcium carbonate to fill the crack. While the technology is still in its early phase, its successful small-scale application demonstrates that fungal self-healing concrete may fit right in someday soon. Jin said , “In my opinion, further investigation in alternative microorganisms such as fungi and yeasts for the application of self-healing concrete becomes of great potential importance”. Via Binghamton University Images via Jonathan Cohen/Binghamton University and Congrui Jin/Binghamton University

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Researchers develop self-healing concrete powered by fungus

Stylish coffeemaker repurposes used grounds to grow fresh mushrooms

July 14, 2016 by  
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As it turns out, the concept of using spent coffee grounds as a substrate for mushroom farming isn’t new. The used grounds—an abundant resource in university districts, creative urban centers, and in pretty much every American household—are basically the perfect material for growing mushrooms. Coffee grounds from cafés are ideal, because the forced steam of espresso machines sterilizes the grounds, but many a casual mushroom farmer has been successful using home-brewed grounds as well. Related: HOW TO: Grow your own mushrooms from recycled cardboard and coffee grounds So, how does this all-in-one coffeemaker and mushroom planter work? The top of the HIFA unit houses the coffee brewing portion of the device, which is not unlike a French press. Grounds are placed in the carafe, followed by just off-boil water, allowed to steep (many say three minutes is the golden time limit), and then a mesh strainer is plunged down into the carafe to separate the soaked grounds from the divine java. The double-walled carafe can be lifted off the base for pouring, leaving behind the used coffee grounds in a little yellow cup. The coffee aficionado/mushroom farmer then pours the used grounds into the divided lower portion of the unit. Add a little mycelium (think “mushroom roots”), spray periodically with water, and watch and wait for tiny mushroom caps to appear. The cultivation of mushrooms in the HIFA system is very similar to other mushroom-growing kits , which often come preloaded with mycelium. Because the HIFA unit fills the mushroom planter from the bottom up, it could be used as a potentially endless source of edible fungus. When the substrate compartment is full, used grounds could simply be redirected to other destinations, such as a compost pile or outdoor garden beds. + Adrián Pérez Via Yanko Design Images via Adrián Pérez

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Stylish coffeemaker repurposes used grounds to grow fresh mushrooms

The Future of Plastic: A “Growing Lab Art” Exhibit that Uses Fungi as a Building and Binding Material

June 18, 2014 by  
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Artist Maurizio Montalti will be exhiting his Future of Plastic exhibit next month at the Fondazione PLART in Napoli, Italy. His exhibit embodies a vision of what plastics are going to look like in the future, and one of the main components he uses is fungi. He follows the evolution of “cultivated” objects by introducing fungal organisms (mushrooms!) to materials like fiberd or agricultural waste. The fungi evolves into an intricate network of mycelium filaments, creating a binding material that holds the building agents together, creating a completely new object. This process could be compared to slow 3D printing in which the speed of printing corresponds to the fungi’s natural growing speed. Where: Fondazione PLART, Via G. Martucci 48, 80121 Napoli (IT), www.fondazioneplart.it When:  Official opening on Thursday, July 10th, 2014, at 6 pm; Runs to 27 September, 2014. Tuesday to Friday 10 AM – 6 PM, Saturday 10 AM – 1 PM + The Future of Plastic + Fondazione PLART The article above was submitted to us by an Inhabitat reader. Want to see your story on Inhabitat ? Send us a tip by following this link . Remember to follow our instructions carefully to boost your chances of being chosen for publishing! Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: 3D , 3d printed , 3D printing , Art , art exhibit , bowl , bowls , Fondazione plart , fungi , fungi plastic , fungus , future of plastic , future plastic , Maurizio Montalti , mushroom , mushroom plastic , mushroom plastics , mushrooms , Plart , plastic

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The Future of Plastic: A “Growing Lab Art” Exhibit that Uses Fungi as a Building and Binding Material

Study Finds Fungi is Responsible for Majority of Carbon Sequestration in Northern Forests

March 29, 2013 by  
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Northern boreal forests are easily recognized for their majestic trees and have been credited with helping to sequester much of the world’s carbon dioxide . It was originally thought that vegetative matter was what was sinking the greenhouse gas. Now, a diverse team of scientists from Sweden have discovered that these great, soaring plants are getting a lot of help from some humble decomposers living in the soil. Their findings, published in the journal Science, revealed that fungi were responsible for up to an incredible 70 percent of soil carbon in certain samples. Read the rest of Study Finds Fungi is Responsible for Majority of Carbon Sequestration in Northern Forests Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: boreal forest , carbon dioxide , Climate Change , decomposition , fungus , global warming , mushroom , mycorrhiza , science , soil , Sweden

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Study Finds Fungi is Responsible for Majority of Carbon Sequestration in Northern Forests

Kristina Kjaer’s Delightful Felt Lamp is Inspired by Woodland Fungi

March 18, 2013 by  
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Danish product designer Kristina Kjaer needed a small lamp that could be hung above her wardrobe to light up her space. Kjaer  took to building her own lamp using natural, biodegradable materials, giving her design a shape reminiscent of the  delightful  fungi found in her town’s local woodlands. Read the rest of Kristina Kjaer’s Delightful Felt Lamp is Inspired by Woodland Fungi Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: “energy efficiency” , biodegradable materials , Danish design , Felt , green lighting , Kristina Kjaer , lamp , low-energy , recycling / compost

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Kristina Kjaer’s Delightful Felt Lamp is Inspired by Woodland Fungi

Plant-Invading Fungi Could Be the Key to Creating the Next Sustainable Biofuel

January 10, 2013 by  
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Image via Wikimedia Commons/ Jensbn Fungus might ruin your bread but its invasive nature could also lead to a new source of renewable energy. Scientists at Montana State University made a surprising discovery while conducting a recent study that tracks the unique products of endophytes — fungi or bacteria — that can live inside a plant for at least part of its life without causing disease. It’s believed that endophytes produce bioactive products that are potentially beneficial for medicine, industry and energy uses, replacing less attractive biofuels like ethanol. Read the rest of Plant-Invading Fungi Could Be the Key to Creating the Next Sustainable Biofuel Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: Alternative Fuel , biofuels , ETHANOL , fungi , fungus , hydrocarbons , mold , Montana State University , plants , VOCs , volatile organic compounds

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Plant-Invading Fungi Could Be the Key to Creating the Next Sustainable Biofuel

Corey Corcoran Has Fun With Fungi In His Beautiful Mushroom Etchings

December 27, 2012 by  
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Read the rest of Corey Corcoran Has Fun With Fungi In His Beautiful Mushroom Etchings Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: Artist , artist conk mushroom , celestial bodies , corey corcoran , drawings , etchings , fungus , ganoderma applanatum , human figures , illustrator , insects , plants

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Corey Corcoran Has Fun With Fungi In His Beautiful Mushroom Etchings

BRC Designs’ Colorful Capped Out Chair is Made From Hundreds of Recycled Bottle Caps

December 27, 2012 by  
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Read the rest of BRC Designs’ Colorful Capped Out Chair is Made From Hundreds of Recycled Bottle Caps Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: “green furniture” , Art , BRC Designs , Capped Out Chair , recycled bottle tops , Recycled Materials , Recycled Plastic , recycled steel , Spartanburg

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BRC Designs’ Colorful Capped Out Chair is Made From Hundreds of Recycled Bottle Caps

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