Food waste + fungi = unique material

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“We have grown fungi on leftover bread from the supermarket, which then gave us a fungal biomass. It contains thin fibres, which can be used to make yarn, bioplastics and leather materials, for example. We have also made textile materials from the yarn," said Akram Zamani.

“The textile materials have shown unique properties that could be used in the medical sector. The fungal fibres are resistant to bacteria and they also increase the growth of skin cells, which means that they not only prevent an ongoing infection but also speed up the healing process. Some of the possible medical applications could be, for example, a dressing for healing wounds or for treating burns. The fungal textile could eventually be developed into clothing for the healthcare sector.”

From the fungal biomass, bioplastics and a leather-like material with properties comparable to animal leather have also been developed.

Akram Zamani explained that “the leather material is soft and feels like natural leather. It has a good potential to replace both animal leather and synthetic leather. Compared to the available leather options, our materials have the advantage of being 100% bio-based and the production process is quick and takes only a few days. From the fungal biomass, we have also developed a bioplastic that could be used in the production of food packaging, for example. The fungal bioplastic is one hundred percent bio-based, which means it breaks down easily.”

The research addresses two major societal problems 

“Today's textile production has an extreme impact on the environment. At the same time, a lot of bread is thrown away in Sweden every year. By reusing food waste to produce textiles, we are addressing both problems at the same time,” said Akram Zamani.

Seeking collaboration to develop products

“We are now looking for partners to develop products. The process of producing the textile fungal yarn is easy to scale up as the machinery required is largely already available in the textile, biotechnology and paper industries. Our hope is that we will see finished products on the market within five to ten years," concluded Akram Zamani.


Read more about the research project

Akram Zamani’s researcher profile