Transparent wood is coming, and it could make an energy-efficient alternative to glass

Transparent wood is coming, and it could make an energy-efficient alternative to glass
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Wood is an ancient material humans have been using for millions of years, for the construction of housing, ships and as a source of fuel for burning. It’s also a renewable source, and one way to capture excess carbon dioxide from the Earth’s atmosphere. Today, the main component of wood – cellulose – is produced annually at 20 times the volume of steel. One thing you wouldn’t use wood for is making windows. Instead we rely on glass and plastic, which are transparent and, when toughened, can give structural support. But buildings lose a lot of heat through glass, and while light can bring some heat through the material, it’s not a good insulator. This is why we need double glazing. Wood, on the other hand, is highly insulating but it’s not transparent. Usually. In recent years, materials scientists have been experimenting with making wood transparent. Making wood see-through, and retaining its high mechanical properties, would provide a good alternative to glass from a sustainable and renewable source. Previous methods of doing this were highly energy intensive and used harmful chemicals, but a new study has shown a way to make wood transparent without using huge amounts of energy […]

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