Insulation From Mycelium, Cleaning Up the Earth with Mushrooms, the Solar Butterfly Launches for Climate Solutions World Tour, Butterfly Wings Solar Light-Capture Technology!

by | Apr 12, 2022 | Podcasts, The Climate Daily

Insulation From Mycelium, plus Cleaning Up the Earth With Mushrooms. The Solar Butterfly Launches for Climate Solutions World Tour, and real Butterfly Wings Have Solar Light-Capture Technology!



Get ready for a flippy floppy rollercoaster ride of emotions on today’s show, folks. We’re going to take a deep dive into the uses of mushrooms and also take flight with butterflies…Incorporated in 2016 by founder Ehab Sayed, a designer, engineer, researcher and entrepreneur, Biohm is bringing biomimicry into the construction industry.

Sayed’s motivation behind founding Biohm is to change the reality for the construction industry. That’s where Biohm comes in, adapting and applying the ingenuity that is found in nature to our built environment. Biohm discovered a way to make two types of bio-based building materials. The first is insulation from mycelium, which is the “root” structure of mushrooms. The second is a sheet material called ORB (organic refuse bio-compound), which is made out of biowaste and a plant-based binder. 

Both types of materials can be pressed, extruded or 3D printed into form for building construction. Why does Biohm’s inventions matter to us? Currently 50% global greenhouse gas emission comes from our built environment and infrastructure accounts. The World Economic Forum has identified global construction waste as a major sustainability challenge, expected to increase to about 2.4 billion tons per year by 2025. 

Each year the Biomimicry Institute awards a prize of $100,000 to the top nature-inspired startups. In 2021, the recipient of the Ray of Hope Prize was Biohm, a bio-based building materials company from the U.K.

DEEPER DIVE: Biohm, The Biomimicry Institute, The Sustainable Fashion Collective



On May 23, 2022, Larso, a solar-powered mobile home in the shape of a butterfly, will “take off” from Switzerland on a global journey. The trip will take THREE years and end in Paris on December 12, 2025, the tenth anniversary of the climate agreement.

The company that built Larso is called SolarButterly and was started in 2007 by Louis Palmer. That year, Palmer became the first man ever to circumnavigate the world in another solar powered vehicle, the “Solartaxi“. 15 years after that first solar world-tour and with CO2 emissions rising steeper than ever, Palmer saw the need to seek out new planet-saving inventions and pioneers.

Larso features solar-powered water heaters, rainwater collection and purification systems for potable water, and a mechanism in its roof that unfolds and spreads apart to form large “butterfly wings” of a large wingspan. These wings have solar panels covering an area about 861 square feet.

The SolarButterfly is also made from materials including waste plastic that is gathered at sea. The four-person team making this journey aims to identify, record and publicize 1,000 climate change solutions and works of pioneers. The SolarButterfly will have an on-board integrated TV studio meant for recording and disseminating reports on sustainable solutions. Works for us!! We can get you the latest and greatest in climate solutions right away!

DEEPER DIVE: SolarButterfly, PV Magazine, Instagram



A Belgium company called Novobiom has found a way to tap nature’s most powerful recyclers, fungi and microorganisms, for use in brownfields, Superfund sites, and other contaminated industrial land. Novobiom was founded in 2014 by Caroline Zaoui, a microbiologist, and Jean-Michel Scheuren, a management engineer with a master’s degree focused on the environment. 

How it works is intricate. But, simply put, Novobiom uses a naturally occurring fungi that can ‘draw out’ pollutants like oil or heavy metals from the soil. These fungi can cause a process to start that can turn harmful chemicals into harmless substances such as carbohydrates, water, and oxygen.

Novobiom is currently working with a pilot project called LIFE MySOIL to determine whether their soil cleaning innovation can be used in large toxic spills. Spain, France and Italy will be the pilot sites for the project funded in 2021 by the European Commission and will last three years. 

Why does Novobiom matter to us? Novobiom’s innovation has the potential to revitalize millions of contaminated sites around the world by naturally decomposing harmful toxins through this systems-level biomimetic approach. In 2021 the company received the recognition of being a finalist in the Ray of Hope Prize hosted by the Biomimicry Institute. 

DEEPER DIVE: Novobiom, L’Echo, GreenBiz, Solar Impulse, Life MySOIL



What do butterfly wings have to do with solar panels you ask? Scientists in the Nano and Molecular Systems Research Unit ( or NANOMO) at the University of Oulu, Finland, have used biomimicry to discover that butterfly wings have a light harvesting process built right into their wings.

The wings have unique and distinct colors and patterns, varying among species, that cause natural light to be separated and trapped in the delicate layers of the scales. The black scales are particularly useful in trapping light. One challenge with solar panels is that they can reflect the sunlight they are meant to trap. This means that the photovoltaic cell isn’t absorbing as much light as it could.

So, NANOMO focused on the unique anti-reflective pattern on the butterfly wing. In some cases, the ability to trap light in the black scales and then convert it to heat helped the butterfly to de-ice its wings. Scientists carefully examined the nanostructures of black scales obtained from different butterflies to find out which ones had the best light trapping abilities.

The scale structure of a species found in New Guinea, Solomon Islands and north-east Australia had the best anti-reflection ability. NANOMO then used the structure as an anti-reflective pattern on a silicon-based solar panel. The light reflection decreased from more than 35% to less than 5% and the electric current generated from that solar panel increased 66%.

Why does NANOMO’s discovery matter to us? It means that there is a way to increase the light absorption of solar panels through biomimicry which will increase the electric current it can produce. Game-changer!!

DEEPER DIVE: ENGIE, TechXplore, Optics