Could transparent wood be the building block to a cleaner future?

Researchers made the material by removing a light-absorbing component from the cell walls of balsa wood and injecting acrylic and polyethylene glycol

A ‘transparent wood’ material could soon be used as the building blocks of energy efficient buildings.

Researchers at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden, originally made the material by removing a light-absorbing component called lignin from the cell walls of balsa wood and injecting acrylic.

Building on this work, Lars Berglund and Céline Montanari have now added a polymer called polyethylene glycol (PEG) to the de-lignified wood.

They say the hazy and transparent material can effectively absorb and release heat, saving energy and emissions, while also bearing heavy loads and boasting biodegradable properties.

The researchers claim the transparent wood has the potential to be more environmentally friendly than other building materials such as plastic, concrete and glass and suggested it could be available for niche applications in as little as five years.

Céline Montanari said: “Back in 2016, we showed that transparent wood has excellent thermal-insulating properties compared with glass, combined with high optical transmittance.

“In this work, we tried to reduce the building energy consumption even more by incorporating a material that can absorb, store and release heat.”

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