New process could make wood as strong as titanium alloys but lighter and cheaper
Engineers at the University of Maryland, College Park (UMD) have found a way to make wood more than 10 times times stronger and tougher than before, creating a natural substance that is stronger than many titanium alloys.
“This new way to treat wood makes it 12 times stronger than natural wood and 10 times tougher,” said Liangbing Hu of UMD’s A. James Clark School of Engineering and the leader of the team that did the research, to be published on February 8, 2018 in the journal Nature. “This could be a competitor to steel or even titanium alloys, it is so strong and durable. It’s also comparable to carbon fiber, but much less expensive.” Hu is an associate professor of materials science and engineering and a member of the Maryland Energy Innovation Institute.
“It is both strong and tough, which is a combination not usually found in nature,” said Teng Li, the co-leader of the team and Samuel P. Langley Associate Professor of mechanical engineering at UMD’s Clark School. His team measured the dense wood’s mechanical properties. “It is as strong as steel, but six times lighter. It takes 10 times more energy to fracture than natural wood. It can even be bent and molded at the beginning of the process.”
The team also tested the new wood material and natural wood by shooting bullet-like projectiles at it. The projectile blew straight through the natural wood. The fully treated wood stopped the projectile partway through.
“Soft woods like pine or balsa, which grow fast and are more environmentally friendly, could replace slower-growing but denser woods like teak in furniture or buildings,” Hu said.
“The paper provides a highly promising route to the design of lightweight, high performance structural materials, with tremendous potential for a broad range of applications where high strength, large toughness and superior ballistic resistance are desired, ” said Huajian Gao, a professor at Brown University who was not involved in the study. “It is particularly exciting to note that the method is versatile for various species of wood and fairly easy to implement.”
“This kind of wood could be used in cars, airplanes, buildings – any application where steel is used,” Hu said.
“The two-step process reported in this paper achieves exceptionally high strength, much beyond what [is] reported in the literature,” said Zhigang Suo, a professor of mechanics and materials at Harvard University, also not involved with the study. “Given the abundance of wood, as well as other cellulose-rich plants, this paper inspires imagination.”
“The most outstanding observation, in my view, is the existence of a limiting concentration of lignin, the glue between wood cells, to maximize the mechanical performance of the densified wood. Too little or too much removal lower the strength compared to a maximum value achieved at intermediate or partial lignin removal. This reveals the subtle balance between hydrogen bonding and the adhesion imparted by such polyphenolic compound. Moreover, of outstanding interest, is the fact that that wood densification leads to both, increased strength and toughness, two properties that usually offset each other,” said Orlando J. Rojas, a professor at Aalto University in Finland.
Hu’s research has explored the capacities of wood’s natural nanotechnology. They previously made a range of emerging technologies out of nanocellulose related materials: (1) super clear paper for replacing plastic; (2) photonic paper for improving solar cell efficiency by 30%; (3) a battery and a supercapacitor out of wood; (4) a battery from a leaf; (5) transparent wood for energy efficient buildings; (6) solar water desalination for drinking and specifically filtering out toxic dyes. These wood-based emerging technologies are being commercialized through a UMD spinoff company, Inventwood LLC.
Learn more: Super wood could replace steel
The Latest on: Wood-based emerging technologies
- Wood Preservative Chemicals Market Estimated to Record Highest CAGR by 2025 on August 28, 2018 at 7:33 pm
Waterborne chemicals amongst other segments based on technology currently leads the wood preservative ... which requires a large volume of wood. This wood-based decoration needs to be protected using ... […]
- Wood Based Panel Market: Global Industry Analysis, Size, Share, Growth, Trends, and Forecast, 2018–2024 on June 29, 2018 at 7:21 pm
Development of advanced technology creates a potential opportunity for players operating in the global wood based panel market in coming years ... and urbanization. The other emerging countries such a... […]
- Global Microcrystalline Cellulose Market to Reach US$ 1.31 Billion in Market Revenue by 2025 on April 13, 2018 at 2:03 am
Global microcrystalline cellulose market was valued at US$ 748.6 million in 2016, according to Global Microcrystalline Cellulose Market, by Source Type (Wood Based and Non-wood ... through the transfe... […]
- Architect: We should be building out of sunshine on July 16, 2017 at 9:41 pm
The wood-based designs are better ... we can build pretty much anything out of carbon that we coaxed from the air. All of these emerging technologies - and more - arrive in tandem with the growing und... […]
- Liquid fuel: nature's energy powerhouse on April 2, 2017 at 3:06 am
The emerging technologies that convert ... Canada has become a world leader in the development of technology for converting cellulosic (woody) feedstocks such as agriculture and forestry wastes. This ... […]
- Biofuel technologies under the spotlight on October 17, 2014 at 12:29 am
Ready to go and emerging wood-based biofuel technologies are under the spotlight at a conference in Rotorua today. Forest owners, harvesters and processors as well as scientists, marketers and financi... […]
- White House pushes ‘wooden skyscrapers’ as a solution to global warming on March 19, 2014 at 11:21 am
“By some industry estimates, a 3-5 story building made from emerging wood technologies has the same emissions control as taking up to 550 cars of the road for one year,” according to USDA. “Wood-based ... […]
- A new technology for producing hydrogen on February 13, 2013 at 9:51 am
Faced with the obvious necessity of finding an energy alternative that will replace fossil fuels in the near future at least partially and in a gradual way, hydrogen is emerging as one ... a heterogen... […]
- Alberta Innovates Partners on Wood-Based Auto Parts Research Project on October 3, 2012 at 10:53 am
"Development of new technologies for the emerging bioeconomy is complex," said Blade. "We are fortunate to have partners that can provide additional research capacity and who understand the market nee... […]
- FuturaGene and Guangxi Academy of Sciences to Develop Sustainable Biofuel Processes for Yield Enhanced Eucalyptus on October 11, 2011 at 5:05 am
GXAS recognizes that the enhancement technologies we have developed provide a breakthrough technology for cellulose-to-ethanol conversion. “Together we aim to develop extensive wood-based raw material ... […]
via Google News and Bing News