Nanowood could be used to replace a variety of plastics and even Styrofoam using fast growing trees as a renewable source of material that doesn’t rely on petroleum.

Tian Li, a post-doc student at the University of Maryland, has created a new material that could massively reduce waste on this planet. Created with researcher Liangbing Hu, this ‘nanowood’ acts like biological styrofoam and can be used in everything from drink containers to insulation.

‘Nanowood’ is wood without lignin, the ingredient in wood that makes it brown and rigid. Before you start thinking — nanowood can be developed from fast-growing lighter woods, like balsa wood, while slower-growing trees would be left alone.

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