Thanks to VTT, people may one day be wearing accessories, footwear and garments made of fungal mycelium, a bio-based raw material that can be sustainably processed into leather-like materials.
“The material has a leathery look and feel and can be as strong as animal leather,” said VTT’s senior scientist Géza Szilvay. “It also offers the possibility to be coloured and patterned, and it does not contain any backing or supporting materials.”
VTT developed the leather alternative to mitigate the negative environmental impact of leather and synthetic leather production.
The research centre’s patent-pending technology for producing the leather alternative is based on growing mycelium in common bioreactors and is easily scalable for commercial needs. Similar fermentation technology is already widely used in the food, chemical and pharma industries.
The film-making process developed by VTT enables continuous mycelium leather alternative production using VTT’s pilot equipment. This method ensures consistent quality, competitive production price and reduced material wastage.
In addition to product development possibilities, the researchers are looking to improve tear strength and abrasion resistance by bio-based approaches.