Scientists have created transparent wood that can be used for making stronger and better insulating windows. This wood is almost as clear as glass. About 3.5% of the energy utilized in the United States goes through the window and becomes wasted due to inefficient glass panes in winter and summer.
Junyong Zhu, a researcher at the USDA Forest Products Laboratory partnered with some colleagues from the University of Colorado and the University of Maryland to make a transparent wood material that looks exactly like glass.
Scientists have looked for a way to make things better by providing a way to use sustainable tree products as a replacement for glass. They have proved to us that transparent wood can outperform glass windows in almost every way, which makes it one of the most promising materials of the future.
Glass has been the most common material used in the construction of windows, but this material is costly. More so, it isn’t environmental-friendly as the heat comes through it easily, especially single pane, which results in higher energy bills when it escapes during cold weather and pours in when it’s warm.
Transparent wood is more thermally efficient than glass, reducing energy costs. More so, when the glass is used for construction, it comes with a heavy carbon footprint. Production emissions are about 25,000 metric yearly.
The scientists made use of wood from the low-density balsa tree. It is exposed to room temperature and an oxidizing bath that removes almost all its visibility. After this, the scientists used a synthetic polymer called polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) to penetrate the wood, thereby creating a product that is almost transparent. The scientist’s findings have been published in the Journal of Advanced Functional Material.