MycoMine are cleaning the planet using an unlikely tool, fungi. Currently there are few, effective avenues able to break down long chain waste hydrocarbons, which leach into water and soil. Conventional methods use incineration to break down hydrocarbons and require polluted water and soil to be removed from the affected site. MycoMine have an alternative, efficient and natural solution which can be used onsite and without incineration using specially selected fungi.
MycoMine’s journey is unusual, with their CEO and founder, Dr Magnus Ivarsson, initially operating as an academic geologist for over 20 years. During his research, he discovered microscopic fungi fossils which were existing in environments he believed they shouldn’t be found. He wanted to understand how this could be the case, so he and his team began to investigate live samples, taking fungi from extreme environments and probing further. Their lead material was discovered in the Stockholm Metro system, where they found a fungi thriving even in this polluted environment, consuming hydrocarbons to survive. This discovery prompted an idea to utilise the fungi for cleaning, and MycoMine was born.
They have developed a selection of cleaning plants, called MycoCubes, where the cleaning process takes place. Their cubes are a secret black box system designed to optimise hydrocarbon degradation, containing the specialised fungi, where waste water passes through the cube. The MycoCube can be changed to fit specific environments and pollutants. The fungi here consume hydrocarbons, with these their nutrients, producing biomass which can then be composted.Image above – The metro fungi in culture. The bubbles in the lower part is oil that the fungi held in their cells and released at pressure during microscopy preparation. Credit Vit Hubka.
The company has been running for 2 years and have just completed a 6-month pilot evaluation, breaking down hydrocarbons in polluted water in a mine in Ytterby. Their pilot demonstrated remarkable 99.9% degradation of hydrocarbon pollutants in the C10 – C50 range, with the water released now drinking water standard.
With their systems clearly very effective at breaking down hydrocarbons in polluted water, the company are now looking at the removal of other pollutants from water including heavy metals, polyfluorinated alkyls (forever chemicals), showing promising early results. Using their cubes in solid systems like polluted soil is another area they hope to exploit. Dr Ivarsson shared that they are looking for partners to undertake these projects with them and are hoping to expand their portfolio and help clean up more industries.
They have won several awards, including the SKAPA award for innovation in 2022 and from Swedish Mining Innovation earlier this year. We are excited to see what other industries MycoMine can clean up, and how their positive, natural cleaner performs.
You can find out more about MycoMine on their website.
Images courtesy of MycoMine, Kristoffer Palmgren & Vit Hubka.