Monday, April 9, 2018

Innovations in Bullet, Insect and Rot Proof Wood

A team at the University of Maryland have pioneered a wood densification technique to develop a material that is 10 times as tough as natural wood, and 12 times as strong.

The lead author of the research and associate professor of materials science and engineering Dr Liangbing Hu has high hopes for the material, and he said it can be used to replace steel in any construction application.

“This could be a competitor to steel or even titanium alloys, it is so strong and durable,” said Hu.

“It’s also comparable to carbon fibre, but much less expensive.”

According to Professor Orlando Rojas from Finland’s Aalto University, the increase in both strength and toughness was an impressive feat, as these two properties usually offset each other.

To create this super material, the researchers extracted some of the source wood’s hemicellulose and lignin. It was then squashed to one fifth of its original size at a temperature of 66 degrees celsius and sealed with a coat of paint.

This process packs the wood’s cellulose fibres so tightly they form strong hydrogen bonds. Weaknesses such as holes and knots are also crushed out of existence.

The material was subjected to rigorous testing, including being shot with bullet-like projectiles. Unlike natural wood, the densified material stopped the projectile from passing all the way through.

For the modular housing industry, this could mean that 2x wood framing could be replaced with a ½”x material and the CDX or OSB sheathing on the outside walls and roof could see entire sheets of this wonder wood making the entire house lighter and stronger.

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