As part of the agreement, Sealed Air will be the exclusive licensee of EcoCradle in North America for protective packaging applications. Sealed Air plans to begin offering the new products immediately.
Ecovative began developing environmentally friendly insulation materials with this 2007 E-Team grant.
Ecovative Design has won the prestigious United States Environmental Protection Agency Environmental Quality award. Ecovative is a former E-Team and upstate New York company that makes biodegradable packaging material from mushrooms.
EPA regional administrator Judith Enck presented the environmental leadership award to Ecovative on Thursday, April 20. The company uses the "roots" of the mushroom—called mycelium—and plant matter to make soft blocks that are used to cushion products ranging from computer servers to furniture.
Andrew Revkin recently blogged in the NY Times about his visit to Ecovative Design, a former E-Team developing packaging, insulation and other materials from mushrooms. The piece delves into the history of Ecovative, which got its start in a course run by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute's (and NCIIA Olympus Award winner) Burt Swersey.
Former E-Team Ecovative Design LLC and Sealed Air Corporation have announced they will work together to accelerate the production, sales and distribution of Ecovative’s EcoCradle® Mushroom™ Packaging, an environmentally responsible packaging material made from agricultural byproducts and mycelium, or mushroom roots. The technology was developed in part with a 2007 E-Team grant.
Submitted by NCIIA Guest on Wed, 08/31/2011 - 19:27
We uncovered this video featuring Eben Bayer of former E-team Ecovative Design. He provides a great insight into his technology and company, and the benefits of green packaging compared to plastics. Bear in mind NCIIA provided Ecovative with its first external funding only four years ago...
Submitted by NCIIA Guest on Fri, 10/01/2010 - 20:28
Mushrooms and how they can save the planet... Eben Bayer of former E-team Ecovative Design spoke at the TED Conference in Oxford, England, about his company's great idea: Ecocradle, a biodegradable replacement for styrofoam. Watch Eben's talk.
It's National Fire Prevention Week. The Today Show called on Ryan O'Donnell of past E-team Bullex Digital Safety to help demonstrate how to escape from a burning house. See the clip.
Want to create a great company like Ecovative Design or Bullex Digital Safety? NCIIA awards grants worth up to $20,000 to help student teams develop their technology. E-team grant applications are due Dec. 3. Read more and apply!
Submitted by NCIIA Guest on Thu, 07/15/2010 - 13:39
Former E-TeamEcovative Design has partnered with Steelcase to supply the office furniture designer and manufacturer with green packaging materials for its product lines. Ecovative's 'Ecocradle' packaging material, made up of agricultural byproducts bound together with mushroom roots, is a sustainable alternative to styrofoam.
RPI E-Team Ecovative Design challenges the norm in the building industry
Open up the walls of just about any new home and you’ll find the same thing: two sheets of plywood sandwiching an insulating foam core. Known as Structural Insulating Panels, or SIPS, the approach is gaining popularity in the building industry because it’s cheap and effective. Unfortunately the foam insulation in SIPS is also environmentally damaging, requiring petroleum to produce, and it isn’t biodegradable, eventually ending up in landfills.
An E-Team from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is looking to change all that with an environmentally friendly, cradle- to-cradle insulating material they call Greensulate. The twist? Greensulate is made primarily from oyster mushrooms. Not exactly your typical approach to home insulation, but challenging the status quo and coming up with novel approaches is a trademark of the growing green building industry—and of innovators in general.
So how does it work? You start by combining perlite (a material used in potting soil), vermiculite (a mineral), water, starch, hydrogen peroxide, and mushroom cells. Pour the mixture into a panel mold, put it in a dark place, and wait. Over the course of one to two weeks, the mushroom cells digest the starch and form mycelium, tiny unicellular fibers similar to the roots of a tree. When the fibers intertwine, they form a rigid insulating material.1 Dry the panel to prevent fungal growth and voila: you’ve got a low-cost, organic composite board that requires no petroleum to produce and biodegrades at the end of its life cycle.
The idea to use mushrooms for insulating material came through a happy mix of personal experience and innovative coursework. Eben Bayer, co-founder of the team, was raised on a Vermont farm and learned gourmet mushroom harvesting from his father. Bayer put that knowledge to good use in school, hitting upon the idea for Greensulate while working on a sustainable housing assignment in Burt Swersey’s Inventor’s Studio course at RPI. Swersey urged him to develop the idea further, and Bayer soon brought in Gavin McIntyre, an RPI student with a keen interest in sustainable technology.
The two meshed, quickly winning Advanced E-Team funding, taking first place in the inaugural ASME I-Show competition, and winning the 21st Century Challenge Competition hosted by Oxford University’s Said Business School.
“Winning the E-Team and other funding was a critical step for us in building our business,” said Bayer. “It came at exactly the right time, as we were making the leap from an institutional research product to a growing company.”
The two graduated from RPI, but instead of taking jobs with other companies they incorporated as Ecovative Design (www.ecovativedesign.com) to pursue the opportunity full-time. Why go the risky entrepreneurial route instead of taking more secure jobs?
“The excitement of doing something great for the world,” according to Bayer. “It was an intimidating choice at the time, but we’re both thrilled to have made it.”
For McIntyre, the final factor in deciding to start a company around the technology was the Advanced Invention to Venture program hosted by the NCIIA. “The knowledge that we gained from the workshop gave us such a strong footing to initiate the venture,” he said.
What’s on the docket for Ecovative now that they’re a real company? For one, they’re working on ASTM compliance certification for the insulating board, work that will be completed this summer and fall under a grant from the State of New York. Further research and development still needs to be done on the board itself, and the team estimates it won’t be commercially available for at least a year. They are, however, actively pursuing commercialization and manufacturing partners.
And Ecovative isn’t stopping at green insulating material. Bayer and McIntyre view Ecovative Design as a research firm dedicated to generating a suite of environmentally friendly products for a variety of markets. They made their first real sale recently: a plant pot for home gardens that rapidly breaks down once placed in the soil, acting as a fertilizer.
Next in the pipeline is Negative Volume, a green replacement for styrofoam packaging material. Negative Volume is produced using agricultural byproducts and is entirely compostable, so when you’re done unpacking that new computer, toss the peanuts in the garden. They make excellent fertilizer. It’s that kind of sustainable thinking that could very well guide Ecovative Design to great success.
1. From “Organic Insulation” by Susan Cosier, www.plentymag.com
Submitted by NCIIA Guest on Mon, 12/14/2009 - 15:50
In his latest look at the year's coolest inventions, NPR's Guy Raz interviews Eben Bayer of Ecovative Design, a 2007 NCIIA E-Team. Listen to the interview or read the transcript... Some key takeways: Greensulate and Ecocradle perform as well as synthetic products, but require a fraction of the energy to produce; Greensulate and Ecocradle are formed from natural materials and processes (so, waste packaging should end up in your compost bin, not a landfill); while you could eat Greensulate, it wouldn't taste good.
Update: More kudos for Ecovative: 'One to watch' as noted by Popular Science.
Submitted by NCIIA Guest on Fri, 11/20/2009 - 22:02
Product placement at its best. CSI-NY's latest episode has gone high-tech, featuring Ecovative Design's Greensulate as a critical clue, complete with burning test. View it here, fast forward to 25:20 (we think the show should have cast Eben as the lab technician)!
Submitted by NCIIA Guest on Thu, 11/05/2009 - 20:12
Former E-Team Ecovative Design has won the top prize at the DoE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory's Clean Energy Venture Awards. Ecovative received the Best Venture award, winning $10,000. The award is the latest in many successes for the former E-Team, which manufactures compostable alternatives to styrofoam and insulation.
Submitted by NCIIA Guest on Tue, 09/01/2009 - 15:10
Each year, CNN profiles a select group of young people who are rocking the world. Former NCIIA E-Team Ecovative Design, who has developed a green replacement for styrofoam and building insulation, was recently featured.
Household energy use accounts for one-fifth of the total energy consumed annually in the US. Better insulation would lead to a reduction in energy consumption, but today's most popular forms of insulation have significant drawbacks in the form of health risks, high cost, and large environmental footprints.
This E-Team developed Greensulate, an environmentally friendly home insulation material. Greensulate is a composite board made up of insulating particles suspended in a matrix of mycelium-growth-stage mushroom cells. This mushroom-based insulation is biodegradable, low cost, produces no pollution in the manufacturing process, and insulates as well as competing products.
They've since focused on developing and selling Ecocradle, a green alternative to polystyrene/Styrofoam packaging.
Update: the team is now incorporated as Ecovative Design. The company won 500,000 euros at Picnic Green Challenge 2008, the world's premier green ideas conference, in Amsterdam, received SBIR Phase I funding from the EPA, and won the DoE's Renewable Energy Laboratory's Clean Energy Venture Awards. Click here to visit their website.
Submitted by NCIIA Guest on Mon, 07/13/2009 - 13:31
Last year, Venture Well cohort member and NCIIA E-Team grantee Ecovative Design won €500,000 (about US$700,000) in the PostalCode Lottery Green Challenge. Deadline for submissions for this year is July 31.