Growing Functional Materials for a Sustainable Tomorrow
Greensulate™ is creating a positive, disruptive shift in how the global community makes materials. Instead of high energy synthetic processes, we use a living organism to quickly GROW valuable materials. Unlike other “sustainable materials”, such as biofoams which are still 70% petrochemicals, Greensulate does not accept compromises; offering superior performance and reduced cost via a holistic, ecological approach. Greensulate is a drop-in replacement for ubiquitous, petrol-derived materials
Describe the critical need your solution addresses.
Over the last year Ecovative has positioned Greensulate to displace petrol-materials in the rigid board insulation and packaging buffer markets. Collectively these industries represent almost half of the polystyrene sold in the United States and Ecovative has successful secured grants to develop the technology for commercial sale. Ecovative is working with potential customers in these synthetics dominated industries to obtain the crucial insights necessary to successfully penetrate the market. Our current focus is addressing process scalability and material optimization, including the construction of a prototype manufacturing floor to initiate 1000 packaging buffers a day. The prototype facility is the precursor to our first pilot plant, which will grow 4 million cubic feet of Greensulate a year The prototype manufacturing line will produce essential empirical data on construction costs, energy consumption, and overall economic viability.
The capital from this competition will accelerate the commercialization of Greensulate, in part funding the prototype facility and additional key team members such as a process analyst and full time mycologist. The prototype facility will be a decentralized, passive system that utilizes ambient energy from the sun and other renewable sources to take Greensulate beyond its present carbon neutral status. The two energy intensive processes, drying and partial sterilization, require only heat allowing us to decouple our factories from the fossil fuel economy. Furthermore, the validation and publicity from this prestigious award will introduce the technology to the world. Once these goals are achieved the system can be deployed internationally, through the use of global partners to aid in the distribution and marketing of our disruptive product family. Ecovative will continue to leverage this mycological platform, creating a broad portfolio of products with exceptional environmental and social benefits.
Explain your initiative in more depth and its stage of development.
Ecovative is shifting the paradigm from carcinogenic synthetics that plague our environment to sustainable, low embodied energy, high performance materials. Greensulate has been tested using equipment at NIST, the WPI Fire Research Lab, and in-house to ASTM standards for strength, fire retardancy, conductivity, and moisture exposure; proof that Greensulate outperforms Styrofoam on myriad of fronts. Comprised entirely of low value waste that is sourced from regional industry and agriculture, the fiscal and environmental costs associated with feedstocks are eliminated; savings that benefit the customer as Greensulate is less expensive and safer than Styrofoam. These materials are up-cycled into a higher value product via a growing mycelium binder that requires 10x less energy and 5x less CO2 emissions than an equivalent volume of Styrofoam. Finally, working with 4 potential customers and grant funding, Ecovative is scaling the growth process and commercializing the technology by 2010.
How does your strategy and approach respond creatively and comprehensively to key issues?
Ecovative was founded in late 2007 by Eben Bayer (CEO), Gavin McIntyre (Chief Scientist), and Burt L. Swersey (Strategic Adviser), all of which are from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute community. The three have developed the Greensulate technology since its nascent stage; optimizing the material properties for strategic markets and filing a family of utility patents. Furthermore, Mr. Swersey is a serial entrepreneur and a nationally recognized lecturer, successfully founding and commercializing several medical devices. Ed Brokwa, a graduate of RPI and Stanford, serves as COO, and is responsible for prototype manufacturing development. Mr. Brokwa has diverse experience with manufacturing systems and a history of creating disruptive solutions, including a radically affordable insulin infusion device. Ecovative has made significant strides towards commercialization over the last year to develop a salable product, funding has been awarded through grants and competitions which include the Picnic Green Challenge, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority Grant, and Oxford University 21st Century Challenge Business Plan Competition.