Wood may seem more at home in log cabins than modern architecture, but a specially treated type of timber could be tomorrow’s trendy building material.
Today, scientists report a new kind of transparent wood that not only transmits light, but also absorbs and releases heat, potentially saving on energy costs. The material can bear heavy loads and is biodegradable, opening the door for its eventual use in eco-friendly homes and other buildings.
The researchers will present their results today at the American Chemical Society (ACS) Spring 2019 National Meeting & Exposition. ACS, the world’s largest scientific society, is holding the meeting here through Thursday. It features nearly 13,000 presentations on a wide range of science topics.
“Back in 2016, we showed that transparent wood has excellent thermal-insulating properties compared with glass, combined with high optical transmittance,” says Céline Montanari, a Ph.D. student who is presenting the research at the meeting. “In this work, we tried to reduce the building energy consumption even more by incorporating a material that can absorb, store and release heat.”
As economic development progresses worldwide, energy consumption has soared. Much of this energy is used to light, heat and cool homes, offices and other buildings. Glass windows can transmit light, helping to brighten and heat homes, but they don’t store energy for use when the sun goes down.
Three years ago, lead investigator Lars Berglund, Ph.D., and colleagues at KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden, reported an optically transparent wood in the ACS journal Biomacromolecules. The researchers made the material by removing a light-absorbing component called lignin from the cell walls of balsa wood. To reduce light scattering, they incorporated acrylic into the porous wood scaffold. The team could see through the material, yet it was hazy enough to provide privacy if used as a major building material. The transparent wood also had favorable mechanical properties, enabling it to bear heavy loads.
Building on this work, Montanari and Berglund added a polymer called polyethylene glycol (PEG) to the de-lignified wood. “We chose PEG because of its ability to store heat, but also because of its high affinity for wood,” Montanari says. “In Stockholm, there’s a really old ship called Vasa, and the scientists used PEG to stabilize the wood. So we knew that PEG can go really deep into the wood cells.”
Known as a “phase-change material,” PEG is a solid that melts at a temperature of 80 F, storing energy in the process. The melting temperature can be adjusted by using different types of PEGs. “During a sunny day, the material will absorb heat before it reaches the indoor space, and the indoors will be cooler than outside,” Montanari explains. “And at night, the reverse occurs –– the PEG becomes solid and releases heat indoors so that you can maintain a constant temperature in the house.”
The team encapsulated PEG within the de-lignified wood scaffold, which prevented leakage of the polymer during phase transitions. They also incorporated acrylic into the material to protect it from humidity. Like their earlier version, the modified wood was transparent, though slightly hazy, and strong, but had the added bonus of storing heat.
The researchers point out that the transparent wood has the potential to be more environmentally friendly than other building materials such as plastic, concrete and glass. In addition to its thermal-storage capabilities, the transparent wood could be easier to dispose of after it has served its purpose. “The PEG and wood are both bio-based and biodegradable,” Berglund notes. “The only part that is not biodegradable is the acrylic, but this could be replaced by another bio-based polymer.”
Now, the focus turns to scaling up the production process to be industrially feasible. The researchers estimate that transparent wood could be available for niche applications in interior design in as little as five years. They are also trying to increase the storage capacity of the material to make it even more energy-efficient.
Learn more: Transparent wood can store and release heat
The Latest on: Transparent wood
via Google News
The Latest on: Transparent wood
- This kicks glass! Newly created transparent wood could be the window of tomorrowon October 8, 2020 at 12:52 am
Glass, Mother Nature's most distinctive and omnipresent substance, might emerge as semi-obsolete down the road, as scientists from the United States Forest Service have recently concocted what they ...
- ETF Wrap: Banks, bonds, and a 98% return for one stock pickeron October 7, 2020 at 10:01 pm
ETF Wrap is a briefing of what investors need to know in the exchange-traded fund sector, including exclusive commentary and interviews on the industry ...
- Townforge Private Blockchain Game Releasedon October 7, 2020 at 5:10 am
PRNewswire/ -- Townforge is a new world-building multiplayer online game, with the ability to mine cryptocurrency, now available for download and use on a testing-only blockchain. Townforge uses a ...
- Scientist-made TRANSPARENT wood more thermally efficient than glasson October 5, 2020 at 12:58 pm
Scientists transform wood from balsa trees into a transparent state that could someday replace conventional glass. The innovation is said to be stronger and five times more thermally efficient.
- Scientist create TRANSPARENT wood as clear as glass but five times more thermally efficienton October 5, 2020 at 12:20 pm
Scientists transform wood from balsa trees into a transparent state that could someday replace conventional glass. The innovation is said to be stronger ...
- Future smartphones may host displays made of transparent wood materialon October 5, 2020 at 9:10 am
Technology is expanding exponentially in the past few years and now, new research suggests that transparent material made of wood might replace glasses in the future. And, who knows it might trickle ...
- Clear wood could one day replace glass for some useson October 4, 2020 at 11:02 am
It may sound like science fiction, but scientists have actually created transparent wood. Researchers have developed a transparent wood material that they believe could replace glass in windows in ...
- Scientists Create Clear, Glasslike Material Out of Woodon October 2, 2020 at 10:50 am
A team of researchers at the USDA and several research institutions say they’ve developed “transparent wood,” a glass-like material made almost entirely out of trees that they claim is stronger, safer ...
- USDA: Transparent wood is the "window of tomorrow"on October 2, 2020 at 9:16 am
The Forest Products Laboratory (FPL) at the U.S. Department of Agriculture has developed a transparent wood that it's calling the "window of tomorrow." ...
- transparent woodon September 11, 2020 at 5:00 pm
We’ve talked about transparent wood before. However, the process can be difficult to get just right. [NileRed] recently posted a video with very detailed instructions on how he’s doing it.
via Bing News