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  • Writer's picturemudratsurf

April-June 2024 Updates!

Hey guys!

It’s been a little bit since our last update and we’ve got a lot to share so I will get right to it. The last time we posted our update in March we were working out some weight issues and running small tests in our custom mold. We figured out what to do about the weight, but ran into a problem we knew we were going to confront eventually- how thick the mycelium will grow. Mycelium only grows about 6 inches deeper than the oxygen source, so if our mold is 8 inches deep, the bottom 2 inches would be loose substrate (that isn't good for our blank). Also, the outer inch of whatever we grow will always be peak rigidness while the inside is ‘lesser quality’ for lack of a better term. 

Our task for the month of April was figuring out how to grow our mycelium blocks in a way where the inside would match the quality of the outer layers, and we succeeded(kinda)! Around mid-April, we figured out a method of growing our blocks where the 6 inch rule doesn't apply. 

We were feeling really good about our experiments, they all continued to run with surprisingly good results considering we were trying all these banana-level techniques of growing it. So towards the end of April we decided to run one more experiment before we began working on our full scale prototype. This was a block roughly 4 times the size of our other experiment blocks. We wanted to confirm on a larger scale if our method would be viable enough to fill our whole mold, and if this experiment worked, we could make the full scale prototype. 

Now, I am just as excited as the rest of you guys, if not more, for our first prototype. I want nothing more than to be using our giant mold as the test size, but alas, we are a startup and need to be conservative with our resources. We are fully aware that our first prototype will be hideous, as most first prototypes are… but we need to be sure it will at least work ya know? 

Going back to the update, we put that last big experiment to work and it didn’t go as planned. What happened was our method for growing it deeper than 6 inches worked, getting that outside effect on the inside worked out a bit better too- but it had a hard time drying because it was so much larger than our previous blocks. The final last step in the mycelium process is drying whatever you are making to kill the mushroom spores and make the product brittle. When it doesn’t dry properly, we get mold and a blank that is not structurally sound. Prototyping is a rollercoaster. As bummed as we were that we couldn’t start our big prototype, we had a meeting to decide next research moves and got back to work. 

After looking at the problem points between our smaller blocks and this test, we figured out the method was solid, it was the substrate that needed to change. We also found a realllyyy old test block, probably from when we first started in October, that we forgot about that looks good. That block was a little accident that we never threw away and never looked back on until recently. On the small scale, it's looking like something to be excited about. Who knows! That's the wonderful and scary thing about science. 

That catches us up to this point! After we found that old block and decided to change the substrate, we have pivoted our experiments around what our failed test taught us. This is all within the last month, and since then, we have been ordering new substrates to test out and began some larger tests to replicate that old block. We have also been making some big girl business decisions on continued funding sources and decided we will be going after grants, SBIR, and strategic investors rather than crowd funding at the moment. We are confident in our solution, so making sure we have a source of funding to continue our work full time (that isn’t coming out of my grad student paycheck) is one of our next moves😎

I wish I had the crazy good news of “we got our first big prototype!” to share, but this definitely isn’t bad. We are still confident in our solution and experimenting gets us closer to having that radical 6 foot chunk of mushroom to rip into. We’re all in this together (yes- I am talking directly to you reading this, hi!) so we will keep updating you guys on what's happening. 

THANK YOU to everyone who's been with us and continues to support us. A sizzling hot hello AND thank you to everyone who’s new to the party! We love you all and wouldn’t possibly be here without you🥳

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