Soil mycoremediation involves taking advantage of the ability of certain strains of fungi (example : oyster mushrooms) to secrete substances (enzymes) to digest substrates such as wood or straw. However, the chemical structure of many organic pollutants is similar to these substrates. The enzymes secreted by the mycelium (organism producing the fungus) therefore have the potential to destroy a broad spectrum of pollutants. Mycelium also has the ability to capture heavy metals.
This is a complex theme on the borderline between microbiological engineering and the treatment of polluted soils. It is studied for more than 30 years but presents certain challenges which limit its applicability on an industrial scale.
A research project conducted by Almadius
In 2015-2016, Almadius carried out a research project entitled "Demonstration of the feasibility of mycoremediation of complex pollution" and funded in part by SPW-DGO6 (Wallonia, Belgium) via a First-Entreprise program. The university partner was UCL (Laboratory of Biological Engineering).
The objective was to provide proof of concept on a pilot scale and to define the parameters allowing the optimization of the process. Industrial soils heavily contaminated by complex pollution (mineral oils and PAHs) were thus treated with yields up to 90%, depending on the experimental conditions.
Application of mycoremediation in on-site treatment of polluted soils
We offer our services and our know-how (mushroom strain, substrate culture and application method) to industrialists, contractors and promoters wishing to treat on-site pollution. Almadius is not a soil remediation contractor but works in partnership with stakeholders.
The target market is sites requiring remediation for which the on-site treatment option is selected or for which conventional off-site treatment solutions do not work (tars, explosives, etc.).
We evaluate each case specifically, knowing the limitations and benefits of the technology, to assess whether mycoremediation is the most appropriate solution from a financial, planning, technical and environmental point of view.
Other applications of mycoremediation in degraded soils
Mycoremediation does not only apply to highly polluted soils. In addition to treating slightly contaminated soils, it also helps to restore the organic matter content and the biological balance of soils. This approach is particularly applicable to real estate developments seeking to promote green spaces (urban agriculture, shared gardens, etc.).