Published: March 26, 2020

  • Year: 2020
  • Participants: Anna Broerman, Kaitlyn Gentert
  • Summary: Erie High School student Anna Broerman, accompanied by her teacher Kaitlyn Gentert, investigated the inclusion of mycelium in cement bricks to aid in seismic performance for her AP research project. Mycelium is derived from fungus-like bacteria, such as mushrooms, and has been shown to maintain its strength long after death, making it an interesting component for mix design. Anna compared results from compression and 4-point bending tests between bricks with and without mycelium fibers to characterize material properties using CIEST's 10-kip (45 kN) Instron UTM. Using mortar, she then constructed small structures, again with and without mycelium, mounted to CIEST's 4-kip (18 kN) shake table to see if the fibers provided a natural seismic resiliency. With special help from Dr. Jaroslav Hruby, the structures were taken through frequency sweeps where the eigenfrequency was isolated and then taken to failure with increasing steps in acceleration. This was a valuable hands-on experience for Anna and Mrs. Gentert. CIEST hopes to continue teaming up with local high schools to provide unique and unforgettable outreach experiences.

Anna and Mrs. Gentert next to the shake tableAnna and friends work with concrete mixThe mycelium and non-mycelium bricksStructure on shake table