Cutting the Carbon from Insulation Cellulose-Mycelium Composite Material

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Golden, Colorado
Project Term:
01/12/2023 - 01/11/2026

Critical Need:

HESTIA addresses the need for implementing carbon removal strategies by converting buildings into carbon storage structures. HESTIA is also important for nullifying embodied emissions. The majority of these emissions are concentrated at the start of a building’s lifetime and locked in before the building is ever used. This upfront emissions spike equals 10 years of operational emissions in a building constructed to meet standard code, but increases to 35 years for more advanced, higher operating efficiency buildings, and more than 50 years for high-efficiency buildings operating on a lower carbon intensity grid. These time horizons go beyond 2050 climate targets, which means embodied emission reduction strategies are a high priority.

Project Innovation + Advantages:

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) will develop a cost-effective, easy-to-fabricate bio-based insulation from celium (a cellulose-mycelium composite) to reduce the embodied and operational CO2 footprint of new and retrofitted residential housing. NREL will create celium by valorizing cellulose with mycelium, the root network of fungi, to create a new class of high-performing, carbon-capturing and -storing textiles, foams, and composites. The team will fabricate a net CO2 negative celium material with high-performance thermal, acoustic, and antimicrobial properties. They will move the material from lab to market by improving the manufacturing process to allow local fabrication of construction materials using local materials and expertise, further lowering the CO2 footprint of buildings.

Potential Impact:

HESTIA projects will facilitate the use of carbon storing materials in building construction to achieve net carbon negativity by optimizing material chemistries and matrices, manufacturing, and whole-building designs in a cost-effective manner.


HESTIA technologies will reduce the carbon footprint of the built environment.


Building materials and designs developed under HESTIA will draw down and store CO2 from the atmosphere.


A variety of promising carbon storing materials are being explored and commercialized for building construction. Currently these materials are generally scarcer, cost more per unit, and/or face performance challenges (e.g., flame resistance for biogenic carbon-containing materials). HESTIA seeks technologies that overcome these barriers while nullifying associated emissions and increasing the total amount of carbon stored in the finished product.


ARPA-E Program Director:
Dr. Marina Sofos
Project Contact:
Robbin Garber-Slaght
Press and General Inquiries Email:
Project Contact Email:


University of Alaska
USDA - Agriculture Research Service

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