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Disposing of Disposable Diapers: Scientists Grow Mushrooms on Them

Author:   Date:2014-11-21  From:  Hits:1594

 

Disposable diapers are made of some of the most indestructible materials on Earth, but a group of researchers has found a way to degrade the soiled garments: by growing mushrooms on them. The scientists grew the oyster mushroom Pleurotus ostreatus on a substance made from used diapers, and were able to reduce the diaper's weight and volume by up to 80 percent, according to a news statement.

Disposable diapers last for hundreds of years in landfills. They contain the plant-based material cellulose, which mushrooms consume, but also nonbiodegradable materials such as polyethylene, polypropylene and a superabsorbent gel known assodium polyacrylate.

 

To grow the fungus, the researchers only used diapers containing liquid waste. They sterilized the garments in an autoclave, then ground up the remains and mixed them with lignin from the remains of pressed grapes, coffee or pineapple tops. The researchers spread commercially available fungus spores on the mixture and kept it in a plastic bag for three weeks.

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