Scientists have created transparent wood that can absorb and release heat. This tree could one day be used in the construction industry to make environmentally friendly buildings where researchers presented their findings at the American Chemical Society (ACS) in the spring of 2019 National Meeting & Exposition.
In 2016, a team led by Lars Berglund from KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm announced that it had developed a type of transparent wood. The research team removed a balsa wood cell wall component that absorbs light and then incorporated acrylic into the wood to make it transparent. Like most forests, it can carry heavy loads, making it a promising construction material.
"Wood is a renewable and abundant material used for centuries as a building material," says Céline Montanari, a researcher on the project. Newsweek . "It has many benefits, including excellent mechanical performance, low density and excellent thermal insulation properties compared to glass.
" However, it cannot be used as a light transmitting material as it is. In a perspective of reducing artificial lighting in buildings and developing new functional wood-based material, we change chemically modified wood to make it transparent without losing the mechanical properties. This suggests that it can be used for light transmitting structures such as windows, advantageously being much more insulating than glass. "
Based on this research, the team then set out to improve the performance of the wood it could absorb and emit heat so that it could save energy costs if it were to be used as a building material. To do so, they added polyethylene glycol (PEG ) to the wood that they had previously developed.
PEG is a compound that melts when it reaches 80 degrees Fahrenheit, which stores energy in the process, by adding it to the forest, the team could increase its energy efficiency. A house from the forest would mean that the material on a sunny day would absorb heat and keep it cool inside. At night, this heat could be released indoors, which means that a constant temperature could be maintained.
"In this work we succeeded. not only to make the tree transparent so it can transmit light, but we also added an extra functionality: heat storage, "said montanari." This means that this review Genuine wood is multifunctional and meets the demanding features of the building sector: Transparency to reduce artificial lighting and heat storage to reduce energy loss.
Researchers involved in the research, funded by the Wallenberg Foundations and the European Research Council, are now working to divide the production process in the hope of making it commercially viable. "We have a patent on transparent wood, which is owned by an industrial company, and they work on industrialization and technological barriers," Montanari said.
The material has the potential to be more environmentally friendly than materials such as concrete and plastic. Both the tree and the PEG are biologically degradable - the acrylic currently used to reduce light exposure can potentially be replaced by another polymer, Berglund said in a statement.
"From an environmental point of view, it is important to increase the use of materials from renewable resources and reduce the use of materials made from limited resources that also contribute to CO2 emissions," Montanari said. "Wood is the most widely used bio-based material in the construction sector, and with the development of transparent wood we show that new uses of wood-based materials are still emerging. Research related to wood is rapidly developing internationally, and in the future there will be promising renewable solutions that can be used in the construction sector. "