Scientists have cultivated ‘transparent wood’ as a replacement for traditional window glass.

The innovation used as its base the wood of the balsa tree, native to South and Central America, and carries the claim of being five times more thermally efficient than glass.

The presiding scientist treated balsa wood in an oxidizing bath that bleaches it of almost total visibility and penetrated it via a synthetic polymer titled polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) – cultivating a product that is nearly transparent.

Unlike conventional glass, the transparent wood can tolerate stronger impacts and will bend or splinter when hindered, as opposed to breaking.

The transparent wood was invented by teams at the University of Maryland and University of Colorado, which intended to discover a greener alternative to traditional glass – a production that generates 25,000 tons in emissions annually.

Glass contributes to greenhouse gases and energy loss.

Residential building windows, says the scientific team, are responsible for 10–25% of the heat loss due to their poor thermal management capability.

They sought to develop energy efficient window materials to lower heat costs, address energy shortages, and the worldwide impact of climate change affiliated with heightened carbon emissions.

The team selected balsa wood due to its rapid growth and opaque appearance, and because of its capacity to absorb light.

The most recent innovation is more transparent, as researchers immersed the wood in a bleach solution at room temperature to deplete the light-absorbing substance from the structure.

Then to attain high optical transmittance and low haze at the same time, the scientists infiltrated the wood template with the help of PVA, an ecofriendly polymer, according to the study.

The team specifies that the bond between PVA and cellulose in the wood, forms a tightly packed structure permitting for more thermal protection and renders it more durable, lighter, and cost efficient than glass.

As an added bonus, this new material is about five times more thermally efficient than glass, slicing energy costs.

This nouveau wood is culled from a sustainable, renewable resource with lower carbon emissions, and is compatible with industrial processing equipment already in place, rendering this transition into manufacturing a virtual certainty.


Source: Architecture and