Photo: Daniel Zamora (UANL)
Researchers from the Autonomous University of Nuevo León develop a new material that replaces leather and is an ecological alternative given the water consumption required by the livestock industry.
By: Laura Puentes
On a trip to León, Guanajuato, we came to a market where merchants exclusively sold things made of leather such as purses, shoes, belts, and bags. But is there a possibility to create products of that quality without using these materials?
Today technology and science allow us to learn about projects that seek sustainable alternatives to activities such as making objects based on animal leather.
Today we will tell you about a leather substitute created by the Dr. Efrén Robledo Leal , and his students from the mycology chair, Juan Lara Gaytán and Esteban García Sixtos, with the support of teacher Juan Manuel Adame Rodríguez, from the Faculty of Biological Sciences (FCB) of the Autonomous University of Nuevo León (UANL) .
Mycelium is the product created by a group of researchers from the UANL, which will not only revolutionize the fashion industry but also within a few years may be an alternative to the food industry.
The mycelium is the actual filament or body of fungi, particularly mushrooms , hence the name given to this product.
“This material is made from the body of all fungi called mycelium. The mushrooms that we eat are the fruit of the fungus, which is still mycelium, but now sculpted to the desired shape, “said Dr. Efrén Robledo Leal in an interview with the U Point media outlet.
For a year, the creators were perfecting the Myelium creation process and were awarded in the international contest “Moda Emprende 2021” in the Special category , by participating in making wallets and key rings with their innovative material.
The leather substitute is obtained in less than two months of cultivation . It is the leather equivalent of a cow and barely 100 liters of water were used, meanwhile, cattle consume one million liters.
“We controlled the way to do it, we saw that it was feasible and has many ecological advantages, it is faster, we do not occupy spaces, it is not toxic and we take up little water,” Esteban García told Punto U.
A new food
Dr. Robledo explains that the main base of Mycelium are mushrooms, for which the group of researchers seeks to make it a food alternative for vegetarian or Felixitarian people (who eat meat, but seek to reduce consumption).
“We are looking for an alternative to leather, for people who want an alternative to leather and meat, but without demonizing bovine products. And it is also very important that it be accessible to all people ”, said Robledo Leal.
In addition, Myelium participates in the circular economy, since its inputs are vegetable waste, it does not need a lot of energy and it does not require very sophisticated devices to obtain it.
“We want to be able to turn this into a food, which is quite nutritious. It does not have saturated fat, it has a lot of protein. And it can be adapted into steaks, it can be given aroma, texture, if you want it to look like ham or bacon ”, emphasized Dr. Robledo Leal.
They are currently being evaluated in the Moonshots Project incubation program , with which the researchers intend that as a food it is easy to acquire for all people.
Scientists create a substitute for leather – Punto U – Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León (uanl.mx)