Transparent Wood- Sustainable Material Discovery

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Transparent Wood Sample from https://www.kth.se

Who says windows have to be made from glass? This new innovation is both suitable for mass production, low in cost, and a renewable resource.

In early 2016 researchers from KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm developed a transparent wood material with limitless building possibilities. The transparent wood has the potential to replace glass windows to allow natural light through walls and have use in solar cell windows. The haziness of the transparency traps the light which makes it incredibly efficient for solar cells, and can still offer privacy while allowing light to shine through spaces decreasing the dependence of artificial lighting.

The wood is developed by removing the lignin, a structural polymer in plants that blocks 80-95% of light from passing through, from samples of commercial balsa wood. When the lignin is removed the wood becomes white, and is then undergoes “nanoscale tailoring” where acrylic is added to the wood to allow light to pass though. Adding acrylic to the wood also makes the material twice as strong as plexiglass. Researches plan on further developing this method with other types of wood at different transparency levels.

Consistency is key with this new innovation. With transparent wood windows the light entering a house would be much more consistent than with traditional glass. Researchers have studied that the angle of light which changes as the sun passes over glass is directed differently with transparent wood. The channels in the wood direct the sunlight the same way every time, meaning an equally lighted room at all times.

The material is still too new to have available samples, however it represents the future of sustainable building possibilities. Wood offers strength, is a renewable resource, has low density, and low thermal conductivity. Transparent wood means future structures can be increasingly transparent and allow a cohesion between day lighting, energy production and living.

Article By: Natasha Rasi

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