Heating and cooling homes is expensive, and inefficient building materials often further exacerbate a building’s carbon footprint. However, thanks to the next generation of futuristic building technologies, these materials can be significantly improved.
A group of researchers from the USDA and several research institutes say they have developed “transparent wood,” a glass-like material made almost entirely of trees that they claim is stronger, safer than glass, and is more economical and more efficient. in terms of thermal protection.
This promising concept has attracted the attention of many research groups around the world working on similar technologies.
The problem with conventional glass is that it is extremely poor insulation, especially in a single glass configuration. According to a recent statement by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), its production could lead to a significant carbon footprint – about 25,000 tons per year.
Thanks to their transparent wood, the researchers say, windows can be made up to five times more thermally efficient than glass counterparts.
Creating new material is also a much more sustainable process. The material is made from environmentally friendly, fast-growing balsa wood (Ochroma). The wood is oxidized in a special bleaching bath and then impregnated with a synthetic polymer. The resulting material is not only nearly transparent, but also behaves more like plastic – it withstands impacts much better than glass, and tends to bend and split like wood instead of breaking into pieces.
The color also impressed the USDA:
“With all these potential benefits to consumers, industry and the environment, the case for clear wood could not be … clearer,” the statement said.