A naturally occurring mycelium is used to make a new type of sustainable material
Spotted: Already expert in natural surface fermentation, Belgian company Citribel has created a way to use biowaste from its industrial citric acid production to create a new sustainable synthetic leather. One of the few companies in the world using sugar molasses (itself a side product from the refinement of sugar) for commercial production of citric acid, Citribel upcycles the waste it produces two times.
With a new brand, MycaNova, set up to manage the mycelium market, Citribel doubles the effectiveness of its production plants. First, citric acid is created as a byproduct of the mycelium that grows on fermenting sugar molasses. After the citric acid harvest, the mycelium is collected, dried, and ground into a powder.
The powder is mixed with binders and backing materials to create a range of possible uses for the material. It is particularly useful as a replacement for polyurethane-based synthetic leathers, and in initial studies, appears as flexible, soft, and dyable as other bio-based leathers yet without the environmental costs.
The additives used in the creation of MycaNova are available as natural or synthetic versions; buyers can choose which combination of materials they would like in the final mycelium fabric. Citribel is currently seeking new partners and ideas for applications of the material.
Written by: Keely Khoury