Ecovative has a very interesting way to design materials. They grow mycelium (part of the mushroom lifecycle) and dry the mycelium to replace packaging material, surfboards, insulation, and other application. I want to try this process out my self to get a better understanding of the material properties of mycelium. Ecovative grows mycelium on agricultural waste (like corn stalks), but I am starting out with something easier, coffee grounds. Mushrooms grow by breaking down nutrients in biomass (corn stalks or coffee grounds). Microorganisms can also grow on biomass and compete with the mycelium. This would ruin the experiment. So, any biomass used for mushroom food needs to be sterilized. Cornstalks would need to be autoclaved. Luckily, coffee grounds are saturated with boiling water, so they are sterile just after use.
I looked around my backyard for different kinds of mushrooms. I haven't identified the species, and I do not know which species produce the strongest mycelium. We'll find out. I found two species, one growing on a log and one that looks like a pile of spores. I placed the mushrooms and spores in fresh coffee grounds (I shook the spores in the bottle to distribute them. I used an empty plastic water bottle and an old plastic container covered with plastic wrap. Both environments are moist, but have holes for air flow. I've placed both containers in a warm dark place (the laundry room). Now we have to wait a few weeks for the mycelium to grow. Hopefully a white fuzz grows throughout the coffee grounds!