A research project sponsored by an Australian Government Research Training Program Scholarship has been able to create new building material out of fungus, rice and glass. RMIT University and Victoria State Government have provided fund for this project.
Researchers have used fungus to bind rice hulls (the thin covering that protects rice grains) and glass fines (discarded, small or contaminated glass). The mixture is then baked to produce a new, natural building material. The process is a low-energy and zero-carbon process and the product can be moulded into many shapes thus enhancing the product’s utility.
Nearly, 100 million tonnes of rice hull is produced globally every year which is either burnt or dumped in landfills. Similarly, glass waste doesn’t have any use and is sent to landfill. By using them in brick making, many problems can be solved – less pollution due to less burning, no headache of managing the solid waste and a sustainable way of making bricks.
The brick so produced is also termite resistant as the silica content of rice and glass would make buildings less appetising to termites. Further, fungal bricks burn more slowly and with less heat, and release less smoke and carbon dioxide than their synthetic counterparts. Therefore, their usage in building construction will improve the structure’s fire safety.